Much of the routine in the Swiss speed team has been lost due to the resignation of well-known players. Now there is a new dynamic.
Carlo Janca bid farewell to professional sport in January 2022, and last winter two other Speed Team captains, Pete Feuse and Mauro Caviezel, resigned. They leave a gap. “A lot has changed,” says Marco Odermatt, who, despite being only 26, already feels like “a bit of a veteran.” “The hierarchy has been clear for a long time, and now a new generation is coming along.”
This is also reflected in the lineup for the first two downhill races of the season. No fewer than 15 athletes made the trip to Zermatt to claim the 11 Swiss places. Nine of them are 25 years old or younger.
In addition to world champion Odermatt, who is still waiting for his first World Cup downhill victory, Nils Hintermann, Stefan Rogenten and Justin Morisier also have their starting place in the top 30 secure. You are in first place to step in as the new team leader. However, it should be noted that Odermatt and Morisier did most of their preparations with the giant slalom team.
Many boys are in a latent position
Behind the seeds there are many athletes who also want to reach the top group or at least get close to it. For example, Josua Mettler and Marco Kohler, both 25 years old, as well as 22-year-old Franjo von Almen, who thanks to their performances in the European Cup last season, can compete in the downhill rounds scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
While overall winner Mettler had his scores at the second-highest level, especially in the giant slalom and super-G, Albernie Kohler and von Almen finished 1st and 2nd in the downhill. “Now I’m trying to establish myself at World Cup level and work my way up,” says Kohler, who was on the podium four times (including one win) in seven European Cup races last winter.
I’m far from dictating how things go
Alexis Monney has already completed his first season in the World Cup. The 23-year-old from Freiburg showed his skills several times, reaching 10th and 11th places in the downhill classics in Wengen and Kitzbühel, and in the only practice session in Zermatt on Wednesday, Mooney was the fourth best Swiss in 19th place. It is already close to the first group.
New constellation, new opportunities
“It is a new constellation that also brings new opportunities,” summarizes Stephane Rogentin. The 29-year-old Graubünden native, who celebrated his first World Cup podium finish last season with a second-place finish in the Super-G in Wengen, has suddenly become one of the most experienced athletes in the Swiss speed team. However, he does not see himself as a leader. “It may not necessarily be necessary,” Rogentin adds. “I try to do my tasks well and have fun. Great if someone gets carried away. But I am far from dictating how things will go.”
Odermatt also points out that skaters are primarily individual athletes: “However, good group dynamics are important for the overall mood.” Reto Nediger, who begins his fifth season as Swiss speed coach, will face similar challenges. It is important to find the right combination so that the team can score points even when Trumpf Odermatt does not win.
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