Switzerland skiing with efficiency | VailDaily.com

Switzerland skiing with efficiency

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT BOP GS Cuche KA 12-02-07

BEAVER CREEK ” As the Swiss national anthem played, honoring Sunday’s giant slalom winner, a throng of Swiss coaches cheered while Austrian coaches toasted with some wine.

Both teams has plenty to celebrate. The Austrians, with four skiers on the victory stage, and seven total racers in the top 15, seem to be back on track after some “mediocre” performances by their own high standards. And the Swiss may have also found their efficient touch again.

Daniel Albrecht, who had his second World Cup win this week, is certainly contributing, but not taking all the credit.

“It started last year. We had good results with young guys like (Marc) Berthod, (Marc) Gini and old ones like (Didier) Cuche and (Didier) Defago,” he said. “We had success with Cuche and that makes things easier for us.”

Cuche, who was third in the overall last year and won the downhill title, already has two podiums this year.

“We have a good feeling of atmosphere on the whole team and everyone is working good and skiing fast,” Albrecht said.

Event though some of the guys can’t train together because their disciplines don’t overlap, the Swiss still find ways to push each other.

“That’s exactly the point in the Swiss team,” said Cuche, who wished he could train with the young guys in all disciplines. “Maybe they don’t need me, but I need them. I hope in the future we do better because it’s a matter of team. Of course it’s an individual sport, but we are working together.”

Along with talented athletes, young and old, the Swiss have benefited from a strong support staff.

“We are going into almost the fourth season with the same coaching staff,” said Martin Rufener, the head men’s alpine coach for Switzerland. “All the individuals are working really hard. We have fun because we first have good results, and that builds up the mind.”

Sunday, another young Swiss skier, Carlo Janka, brought a good result.

“He gets into 17th and he’s a 1986 (birthday),” Rufener said. “We have some more (young) guys at home. Not too many, but we have some.”

Switzerland trails Austria in the men’s nation cup by 261 points. Rufener hopes his team can eventually end up on top.

“It’s one of the goals I have for 2010 ” we’ll go in that direction,” he said. “But I need more athletes, not only two and three scoring points. We need the second group coming in, too.”

– When asked if he should buy a house at Beaver Creek in light of his recent success, Albrecht said, “I think it’s very expensive here. After winning some more races here, perhaps. Maybe.” With his two wins, Albrecht has about $80,000 Swiss francs.

– Cuche, whose sense of humor has not gone unappreciated during press conferences, had a good assessment of Albrecht’s skiing style. “He has this instinct to let the skis go, like the Bode Miller style, but now we can call it the Albrecht style.”

– Sunday’s race had the top 10 finishers within 0.60 seconds, which is the fourth-smallest margin in a World Cup giant slalom. The record is 0.50 seconds, which was set in 1993 at Are, Sweden. The record for any races was 0.22 seconds during a 1991 downhill in Garmisch, Germany.

– Despite the 15 inches of snow that fell in a 24 hour period, the course was immaculate for Sunday’s race, which begs the question, “Can they also heal lepers?”

– The Vail Valley Foundation’s John Dakin is coming out of retirement to announce today’s race. Go JD.

– What’s the only thing better than Monday Night Football? Monday morning ski racing.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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