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Swiss look ahead to 2006 Winter Olympics

The Swiss men's ice hockey team qualified by beating Norway at the weekend Keystone

The Swiss Olympic Association says the Swiss team at the 2006 Winter Games could be the biggest ever, despite the introduction of tougher selection criteria.

On Tuesday, the committee said as many as 130 Swiss athletes could take part in next year’s Olympics in Turin.

At a news conference in Zurich, Swiss Olympic said only those athletes or teams with a realistic chance of a top-ten finish would be selected.

However, the head of the Swiss Olympic team for 2006, Werner Augsburger, said he still expected the Swiss team to be the biggest ever at a winter Olympiad.

“If our athletes live up to their potential, then the team could be around 130-strong,” said Augsburger.

That would be 16 more than took part in the last winter games in Salt Lake City in 2002. The Swiss team returned home after those games with a respectable 11 medals – three gold, two silver and six bronze.

Ice hockey

Augsburger said one of the reasons for the likely increase in the team size was the fact that the Swiss men’s and women’s ice hockey teams had already qualified for Turin. Each team consists of more than 20 players.

The selection competitions will take place in two phases: in November and December of this year, and next January.

The association said alpine skiers would only qualify with at least one finish in the top seven, or two finishes in the top ten, with at least one of these in January 2006.

This could spell trouble for Swiss skiers who failed to win any medals and who only managed a few top-ten finishes at the World Championships, which ended last weekend in Bormio, Italy.

swissinfo with agencies

As many as 130 athletes could represent Switzerland at the 2006 winter Olympics.
The men’s and women’s ice-hockey teams have already qualified.
They could represent a third of all Swiss athletes in Turin.
The Swiss Olympic Association says it will only select athletes or teams with a chance of a top-ten finish.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR