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Head of Swiss delegation kept busy in Turin

Werner Augsburger rarely stays in one place for long (swissinfo) swissinfo.ch

Werner Augsburger is a familiar figure at all the competition sites in Turin. swissinfo spent a day watching him race against the clock.

This content was published on February 16, 2006 - 10:52

On Tuesday the head of the Swiss delegation at the 2006 Winter Games divided his time between the competition sites at Sestriere, Cesana San Sicario and Turin.

Augsburger leaves Sestriere at 12.30pm for Cesana San Sicarioto to monitor the progress of two Swiss athletes in the biathlon.

Despite his status and the access-all-areas sticker on his car, he is stopped on his way into the official car park. Augsburger gets annoyed with the officials, but despite his best efforts in Italian, French and English they turn him away.

He solves the problem Italian style – by leaving his car in a lane ten minutes' walk from the competition site.

Communication

Once on the edge of the slopes, he cheers on Matthias Simmen and Simon Hallenbarter. But his support is not enough and the two finish far down the field.

"Now we have to analyse their performance and decide whether it is worth lining them up for the next competition," says Augsburger, who during the games has final say over selections. "The opinions of the trainers counts enormously," he says.

This is proved en route to Turin where he plans to watch the women's hockey game between Switzerland and Germany, as well as the performance of figure skater Stéphane Lambiel.

Over the phone he gives his approval to the head of the Nordic combined team, Hippolyt Kempf, for the final selection for tomorrow. His mobile has not stopped ringing since lunchtime.

He then talks to the three heads of the Olympic village, Swiss athletes who qualified in the freestyle event the previous day and Gian Gilli, the head of competition for Swiss Ski who is following the men's combined.

Augsburger's mood improves: two skiers are placed for the following slalom.

Recharging

It's time for a break in his room in the Olympic village. Augsburger has been on the go 18 hours a day for the past month.

"I take a little time for myself here and there to do some sport or read a little," he explains. "I need to recharge my batteries to be able to keep up the energy."

At 5.30pm he's off again. He leaves for the ice rink where the women's hockey team is playing.

"It's important for me to welcome the athletes arriving in Italy and to show them that their sport is important to us."

At the rink he exchanges a few words with the trainer of the Swiss men's ice hockey team, Ralph Krueger, whose players have just finished a training session.

The Swiss women equalise against Germany and Augsburger jumps to his feet to applaud. He won't be able to stay until the end of the game because he's expected at another ice rink.

No surprises

At the Palavela complex, which is hosting figure-skating and short track events, Lambiel is presenting his new short programme at 8.20pm. When the world champion begins his performance, Augsberger is in the stands.

Lambiel finishes third ahead of the second leg of the competition: the free skating programme.

Then news comes through from Sestriere: the young skier Daniel Albrecht has just finished fourth in the combined. Marc Berthod came in seventh.

It is close to 10pm when Augsburger gets back into his car. He won't sleep in Turin tonight because he has things to do at the other competition sites the following morning.

"Now I have a pleasant two-hour drive back to Sestriere. But I'm happy. I was able to get through everything in my programme and I didn't have to deal with any unexpected discussions."

swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux in Turin

In brief

Werner Augsburger arrived in Italy a week before the Winter Games began to sort out last-minute details.

Before the Olympic Games Augsburger visited the area about 20 times. During the events, he moves from site to site making sure everything is going well.

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Key facts

Werner Augsburger is married with two children.
After university in Bern (1978-82) he worked as a teacher and played volleyball for Leysin.
From 1991 to 1999 he was head of sales for the Swiss branch of Rossignol.
Since 1999 he has been technical director of Swiss Olympic.
Head of the Swiss Olympic team in Athens in 2004, he will also lead the team to the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

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