Hundreds of sport fans gathered in the Swiss city of Fribourg on Friday as local hero David Aebischer brought home ice hockey's biggest trophy, the Stanley Cup.This content was published on August 31, 2001 - 19:43
The 23-year-old goalkeeper was only able to play a minor role in the Colorado Avalanche's successful season, with legendary goalie Patrick Roy generally minding the net. But Stanley Cup tradition dictates that all players and coaching staff get their name engraved on the famous trophy and get a whole day to do with it as they please.
"I had hoped to take it to Zermatt, and perhaps go up the Matterhorn," Aebischer told swissinfo after picking up the oversized prize at Zurich airport, "but the time window proved to small in the end."
Instead, Aebischer presented the cup at a shopping centre on the outskirts of his Fribourg home, and stood for photographs with delighted members of his fan-club.
"I knew him well when he lived here in Fribourg and he hasn't changed at all," said one smiling fan. "It's great to see him back here, and to be able to see the Stanley Cup."
The trophy itself was clearly the big draw for some of those in the crowd.
"It's a lifetime dream of mine to see it," admitted one man from Lausanne. "If it hadn't come here, I would have had to go to Boston to see it in the Hall of Fame. I've changed my work shift all this week, getting up at three in the morning so that I'd be able to make it here today."
In its more than one hundred year history, the Stanley Cup is said to have been thrown into a ceremony, kicked over a frozen canal, left on roadsides and held everything from champagne and chewing gum to raw clams and oysters.
Those 'lucky' enough to have drunk from it may not wish to know that the New York Rangers celebrated their 1940 Stanley Cup win by urinating in the silver bowl, while in 1994 the trophy served as a feed bag for the winning horse at the Kentucky Derby.
Aebischer insisted that his own plans for the cup were less adventurous, although he added that he hopes to win it again in the near future and do some "crazier stuff" then.
"For now, though, I'm just going to have a private party at a secret location with some of my old friends," Aebischer said. "Then take it home and maybe sleep with it if the bed's big enough."
Reports that the Stanley Cup might get its first taste of Swiss fondue proved unfounded, however.
"You can't heat it up," Aebischer explained with a grin, "and a good fondue has to be kept warm all the time."
by Mark Ledsom, Fribourg
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