Swiss man wins the Lauberhorn

January 16, 2010, 1 Comment

This is the Swiss equivalent of a British win at Wimbledon: a Swiss man winning the premier ski event of the year, the Lauberhorn run. Apparently it’s one of the longest runs, at over 4400m, but far more importantly it’s one of the most most scenic, with the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains as its backdrop. I’m sure that’s why it’s such popular viewing – more viewers on Swiss TV than Mr Federer winning Wimbledon.  Not forgetting the 32,000 spectators at the event, which in itself is quite a feat. It takes place above Wengen, a car-free resort on a cliff top near Interlaken. The only way up is to walk or take the cog railway, and the queues for that are long at the best of times. But this being Switzerland, no doubt there were plenty of extra trains in service.

So today Carlo Janka made every Swiss person happy coming in with a time of 2 mins 32.23 seconds, and 0.66 seconds ahead of Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis. And 0.66 seconds is half a lifetime in downhill skiing. My other half, Gregor, was more than proud to see that a Liechtensteiner, Marco Büchel, was third. The crowd of spectators in Wengen was almost as big as the population of Liechtenstein, so ski hats off to him.

For the Swiss, the joy of winning was made even greater by the fact that the highest-ranked Austrian was ninth. No ski season is complete without Switzerland and Austria comparing results and getting hyper competitive. It’s like England and Germany at football, except that the Swiss win far more often than the English. The centuries-old rivalry dates back to when William Tell did his apple-shooting thing and pissed off the local Austrian bigwig. After a few battles, at least now the two sides limit their conflicts to the ski slopes.

So, as they say here, ‘Hopp Schwiiz!’

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