Swiss confident about season
The Swiss are looking confidently into the new season. At the season opening press conference in Zürich on Friday the head coaches Osi Inglin (men) and Mauro Pini (ladies) outlined their goals for the season.
Inglin, who took over the reigns from Martin Rufener at the end of last season, has focused on continuity rather than change in his team, with the exception of some fine-tuning. Three of the men's training groups traveled overseas to South America for on-snow training while the slalom team stayed behind to train on the home glaciers in Zermatt and Saas Fee. For all the training went smoothly in excellent conditions the world over.
Recent injuries to Justin Murisier and Ralf Kreuzer, who both will miss the entire season, and the knee operation for Marc Gini and broken wrist for Ambrosi Hoffmann, who are expected to race this season, have put a small dampener on the Swiss men's early season. But Inglin remains confident given the return of downhill Olympic champion Didier Defago after 18 months of injury-related absence and good preparations for Carlo Janka, who can look back to a complete summer training season after two years of strange problems. The current shape of veteran Didier Cuche and youngster Beat Feuz too make Inglin look positively into the new season.
The Swiss men's main goal will be on the World Cup where they seek to defend their 2nd place in the nation rankings. At the same time, the sights are set at the event crystal globes, potentially with team members fighting each other for those.
The Swiss ladies' team could not quite meet the expectations set on them last year. Head coach Pini is pleased with the good summer training and hopes to see the team make a step forward again. While the ladies' speed team chose to stay home in Switzerland this summer, the tech team spent three weeks in Sierra Nevada in May and a full month in New Zealand training in optimal conditions. "The training conditions especially in Zermatt this summer allowed us to execute optimal summer training. The slopes were in excellent condition, the weather always good so that everyone could make significant progress."
Compared with last season where especially the results in the speed events did not quite measure up to the past, the Swiss ladies are approaching the season with high goals: "We would like to be the best speed nation again this year!" said Pini who can rely on a team consisting of Fränzi Aufdenblatten, Fabienne Suter, Dominique Gisin, Nadia Kamer, among others, and naturally Lara Gut who has mostly trained on her own this summer but will be integrated into the team at the World Cup races.
His expectations on the tech side are considerably lower. There patience is still needed as the young racers continue to work their way up the latter. "Our goal in the tech events is top 15 spots in slalom and top 30 in giant slalom." The mid-term goal for the Swiss ladies is set at the Sochi 2014 Games. "We are hoping to grow the team with another 2-3 young athletes for next season." The preparations saw the young team to work ever harder both in fitness and on-snow training, as well as in the field of mental preparation. "To better prepare the athletes on the mental side, we have set up a new special philosophy designed to develop a 'more aggressive competition mentality'," explained Pini.