Double gold for Swiss Olympic men

February 17, 2010, No comments

You might think that Switzerland has enough gold buried away in bank vaults under Zurich’s Paradeplatz, but it seems the Swiss can’t get enough of it. Two more gold medals at the Olympics, won within a couple of hours of each other. Dario Cologna, from Graubünden, won the men’s 15km cross-country skiing, the first time a Swiss man has won that event. But that achievement was overshadowed by the biggest news of the day.

0.07 seconds. Almost impossible for the human brain to register but thanks to the wonders of modern technology those seven hundredths of a second were enough for Didier Défago to snatch gold from Norway’s Svindal in the men’s downhill. In case you missed the closest finish in Olympic history, this is your chance to see it again: if you live in Switzerland, watch it here, or in the UK here, or in the US here. Current Swiss Sportsman of the Year, Didier Cuche, could only manage sixth. I guess he won’t be winning that crown again either, unless he triumphs in his best event, the Super G. For now, it’s Défago, from Valais, who has Switzerland celebrating.

As for those Austrians, no chance. Mario Scheiber trailed in in fourth place. I say trailed but in fact he was only 0.21 seconds behind Défago. Half a lifetime in downhill terms. So with only two silvers and a bronze, Austria is 13th in the medal table. Switzerland are 3rd, thanks to those three golds, and a bronze from snowboarder Olivia Nobs.

And of course, we musn’t forget that it’s Swiss technology behind all the timings at the Olympics: Omega are the official timekeepers. With Défago’s victory so narrow, you might think there was some funny business going on with the clocks. But this is Switzerland. No one cheats at anything.

All this gold puts me in mind of a certain classic song from Spandau Ballet.

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