Tucked in the Leventina valley at the foot of the Gotthard mountain, the villages of Ambrì and Piotta are home to a professional hockey club with a cult following beyond Switzerland.This content was published on February 17, 2018 - 11:00
- Deutsch Hoch oben im Tessin - weit unten in der Tabelle
- Español En la cima del Tesino, al fondo del récord
- Português Uma equipe tão distante dos centros
- 中文 瑞士人最爱的一支球队
- عربي في أعلى التيتشينو.. وفي أسفل تصنيفات الدوري!
- Français Au sommet du Tessin, au fond du classement
- Pусский Высоко в горах Тичино, но внизу турнирной таблицы
- 日本語 アイスホッケーファンの聖地 HCアンブリ・ピオッタ
- Italiano In cima al Ticino, in fondo alla classifica
An imposing structure with a vaulted roof stands out from all other buildings in tiny Ambrì: it is the “Pista la Valascia”, the hockey stadium and home of HC Ambrì-Piotta. The venue is all the more remarkable for seating 7,000 spectators, or several times the population of the entire municipality of Quinto, where Ambrì is located.
The impressive size of the arena is no accident. HC Ambrì-Piotta – or the white and blues, as they’re affectionately known – has fans in all of Switzerland and across Europe, too.
When the club meets its arch rival from the southern Swiss town of Lugano, supporters from as far away as German-speaking Schaffhausen in the north of the country make the pilgrimage to cheer on their team.
On just such a night, fans fill the local restaurants before the game to enjoy a pizza. Among them is Bruno, who created one of the many HC Ambrì-Piotta fan clubs back in 1982.
Cult of loser
The hockey club’s reputation for being a consistent loser goes some way to explaining its cult following. HC Ambrì-Piotta has never won a major championship beyond a cup final in the 1960s. But it has managed to avoid relegation and year after year continues to fight it out in Switzerland's top professional league. It’s a struggle financially as well: The team sometimes has to resort to calls for donations to stay afloat.
For the Leventina valley, however, there are economic benefits. As hotels and restaurants have closed in this depressed part of canton Ticino, the establishments that survive rely on fans flocking in each week. Face offs against the rival team in Lugano are particularly special as they draw the biggest crowds. It’s a carefully cultivated confrontation, mirroring as it does the traditional rivalry between the poor north and the rich south of Ticino.
On the night the photos were taken, the fans are as ardent as ever, erupting in cheers when HC Ambrì-Piotta scores against Lugano. But the game ends in inevitable fashion: a 4-1 loss for the beloved white and blues.
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