Swiss pin hopes on speed racer Hoffmann
Downhill racer Ambrosi Hoffmann represents one of Switzerland's best hopes of winning a medal in alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics in Turin.
Four years ago in Salt Lake City he was the highest-placed Swiss in the downhill competition, finishing in eighth position.
The 28-year-old has fond memories of Salt Lake City in the United States, scene of the last Winter Olympics in February 2002.
"The event was magnificent," recalled Hoffmann, who was among the 2,400 athletes from nearly 80 countries taking part in the Games. "Life in the Olympic Village, the course, the weather – everything was perfect, except my results."
This time around Hoffmann, who hails from the winter resort of Davos, is looking for an improved performance.
"I'm aiming for a medal, but I don't care whether it is in the downhill event or the Super-G," he said.
He had an excellent start to the World Cup season, achieving the necessary result – a fourth place – in the first Super G at Lake Louise, Canada, last November to qualify for Turin.
"I feel confident in this discipline and everything seems to be right, my performance and the equipment."
Although he is not considered a top downhill racer, Hoffmann remains among the best and fastest Swiss in the speed disciplines together with Didier Défago and Bruno Kernen.
And Hoffmann doesn't seem to be intimidated by the big occasion. "It gives you a real buzz competing in front of large crowds. They spur you on and really make you fly."
Ups and downs
Hoffmann is about to reach the peak of his sporting career after enduring a difficult start. He was even relegated from the top competition World Cup to the lesser European Cup races during the 2000-2001 season.
However, in March 2002 he clinched his best ever result, a second place in a World Cup downhill race and he has been consistently among the top ten over the past five winters.
"It's been a slow learning curve but if I really go for it and have a bit of luck, I know I can do it. But everything has to come together on the day for me to beat the top downhill racers."
Hoffmann will have two cracks at a podium finish on the slopes of Sestriere. The downhill race is scheduled for February 12, with the Super G event six days later.
"I'll treat these races the same as any other. I always give my best, whether it's a trial, a World Cup event or an Olympic race," he said.
swissinfo, Raphaël Donzel
Hoffmann's best results:
2nd place in a World Cup downhill event in 2002.
Two 3rd places in World Cup downhill races in 2004 and 2005.
3rd place in a World Cup Super-G in 2005.
8th place in the overall standings of the World Cup downhill discipline in 2004.
8th place in the downhill event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
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