Sport as a Part of Swiss Culture
Sports are an essential part of Swiss national culture. The most favorite activities in the country of the Alps are obviously skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Besides more than 40 international sports federations are headquartered in the cities of Switzerland. SUISSEPIC performed a small research on what sports are popular, where to go to start them and what athletes are well-known.
Almost 25% Swiss men and women are involved in different types of sport activities: swimming, jogging, fitness, tennis, volleyball, hockey, football, etc. One in four people is an active member of 20,000 sports clubs. There are around 32,000 sports facilities.
The Swiss are great fans of sports. They really like watching sport events in stadiums or on TV. Switzerland hosted a lot of events such as the Winter Olympic Games (1928, 1948), FIFA World Cup (1954) and the UEFA Euro (2008), European and World championships in various sports. Due to eda.admin.ch, Swiss athletes have won a total of 192 Summer Olympic medals and 138 Winter Olympic medals.
Switzerland is a home 40 sports associations such as the International Olympic Committee, UEFA, FIFA, IIFH (International Ice Hockey Federation), FEI (International Equestrian Federation). Most of them are located in Cantons Vaud and Zürich.
Winter sports in Switzerland
Winter activities are the basis of sports culture in Switzerland. They are regularly and actively practiced by almost all the Swiss. Excellent snow conditions, extensive slopes and the best winter resorts such as Davos, St Moritz and Zermatt are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. There are 2,450 ski lifts in Switzerland. The most popular sports are curling, skiing, ice-hockey and figure skating. Many cities and all major alpine resorts in Switzerland have a public ice rinks paths and slopes that can be used by both amateurs and professional athletes.
There are about 200 ski schools in Switzerland which qualify snow sports instructors and coaches who can teach children, young people and adults. The oldest ski school is the Red Legends located in St.Moritz. It’s the first Swiss Ski School founded by Giovanni Testa in 1929. There are 350 ski instructors from 14 different countries who passed their trainings there.
Another famous ski school is the Villars Swiss Ski School founded in 1932. There are 300 instructors who were trained here. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the Villars Swiss Ski School also offers snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and biathlon lessons, paragliding and disabled skiing. The third one is the Nendaz Swiss Ski & Snowboard founded in 1962 by Jacques Mariéthoz in Haute-Nendaz (Valais). The biggest school in Zermatt is Schweizer Ski & Snowboardschule, which has been training skiers and snowboarders since 1929. This school can boast a team of over 200 professional instructors.
Among the most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche. The Figure skater Stefan Lambiel twice became the world champion in the men’s single skating. He has his own figure skating school in Champéry. The Swiss curling teams won 3 World Men’s Curling Championships and 2 Women’s titles. The Swiss men’s team won a gold medal in 1998 during Nagano Winter Olympics. Curling Academy of Rodger Schmidt established in Lucerne in 1994 is among the most renowned International Curling Academies. Another big curling school is the PeakCurl Swiss Curling School located in Adelboden where the professional team trains from the beginners to top athletes.
Summer Sports in Switzerland
The Swiss also follow summer sports like football, gymnastics, basketball, motorsport, swimming, tennis, sailing and athletics. Football and tennis are the most popular in Switzerland. There are 1,419 football clubs in Switzerland, with 268,000 licensed players (8% of whom are women), and 155,000 juniors. The national football team, or Nati, is widely famous. The major Swiss football teams are Grasshopper Club and FC Zurich. The Swiss youth football teams won the Under-17 European Championship in 2002 and also the Under-17 world cup in 2009. Swiss footballers such as Johan Djourou, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Heinz Hermann, Alexander Frei and Max Abegglen were among the world’s best footballers
Tennis is a widely practiced sport in Switzerland. And Roger Federer is considered to be a national hero for his having won a staggering 17 Grand Slam titles and being an Olympic Champion of Beijing 2008.
Swiss tennis schools are considered to be one of the best in the world. They offer high performance training programs for juniors, young professionals and adults. The most successful, competent and internationally orientated tennis school is the Swiss Tennis Academy located in Biel. The world-famous tennis players such as Marco Chiudineli, Stefanie Vogele and Roger Feder trained here. One of the oldest school is Tennis Academy founded by Folkert Hesse in Zürich.