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Swiss ski team boss Flatscher reveals secrets of extraordinary season of success

Apr 08, 2024·Alpine Skiing
Lara Gut-Behrami and Marco Odermatt claimed 20 World Cup wins between them last season (Agence Zoom)
Lara Gut-Behrami and Marco Odermatt claimed 20 World Cup wins between them last season (Agence Zoom)

It is simple for Hans Flatscher, Switzerland’s director of Alpine skiing, there is only one way to get to the top and stay there.

“The sport of ski racing is so dynamic, you always have to try to get somewhere new,” Flatscher said at the end of yet another winter in which his skiers dominated the Audi FIS World Cup.

“You have to try new things, try to always get ahead because staying at the same level is already a step backwards.”

Flatscher is clearly not joking when he adds from the final day of the 2024 World Cup Finals in Saalbach, Austria:

We are going to enjoy the moment but from tomorrow on the new season begins.Hans Flatscher, Switzerland’s director of Alpine skiing

It was quite a revelation considering the Swiss men’s team had just wrapped up a fifth Nations Cup in succession, with the women finishing second. Individually, the supremacy was of course even more acute, with Marco Odermatt (SUI) and Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) having claimed seven out of the 10 men’s and women’s World Cup Crystal Globes.

The world-beating duo have deservedly generated reams of coverage throughout the past seven months, but consistently successful programmes rely on a lot more than just the headline grabbers.

On the men’s side, Loic Meillard (SUI) ended the season quite literally right behind Odermatt, finishing second overall and second in the giant slalom. Niels Hintermann and Daniel Yule also climbed to the top step of World Cup podiums this season while on the women’s tour downhill world champion Jasmine Flurry (SUI) claimed a maiden World Cup triumph and the indefatigable Michelle Gisin (SUI) continued to shine across the disciplines.

But perhaps the result which gave Flatscher as much pleasure as any other came in the very final race of the season.

Of course, with (the) two athletes who are leading our whole team, with Lara and Marco, it is a little bit easier, but also behind, we are really good with a good depth,” Flatscher said after watching Stefan Rogentin (SUI) lead a Swiss clean-sweep in the men’s super-G. Meillard was second with 25-year-old Arnaud Boisset third in just his 13th World Cup start.

Earlier in the season 22-year-old Franjo Von Allmen went one better, claiming a first podium in his 12th World Cup race.

Add on the fact that at every level, red-clad skiers are excelling and it is no wonder Flatscher is beaming.

We do everything we can to get athletes from the European Cup into the World Cup as soon as possible. We make every effort to train them well so that they have the technical skills to compete and make real progress,” the veteran coach revealed.

I think we've managed to do this very well with the young athletes, especially in the downhill.Hans Flatscher, Switzerland’s director of Alpine skiing

The results bear this statement out perfectly.

Malorie Blanc (SUI), Lenz Haechler (SUI) and Livio Hiltbrand (SUI) all won Junior World Championship gold medals in February, while Hiltbrand topped the European Cup season-long downhill standings and then watched on as compatriot Janine Schmitt (SUI) went one better and took the Overall women’s title.

While Flatscher is adamant that Swiss skiing will “not stand still” he does not forsee any changes in coaching personnel during the summer. Instead, the entire focus will be on improvement.

It might be hard to imagine how the Swiss do improve, with even the man in charge admitting to not expecting to top their 2023 efforts (men’s World Cup nation’s champions in three disciplines and overall plus women’s overall and super-G champions) last season.

But the presence of the chasing pack, led by Alpine neighbours Austria no doubt, will be motivation enough to try.

“We know, we are the ones being hunted, everyone will be looking at what we've done and putting pressure on us for years to come but we're ready for it,” Flatscher said.

“I believe that we are really good, consistent, and with a lot of passion. We will continue to work and I hope that we will stay as successful as possible and on this wave.”