The International Ski Federation (FIS) was founded in 1924 during the first Olympic Games in Chamonix, France. Today, 110 member nations compete in five disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and combined (downhill and slalom) during the FIS World Cup, the alpine skiing highlight of the year. Representing Switzerland's National Team this year will be eight women and six men: Franzi Aufdenblatten, Andrea Dettling, Dominique Gisin, Lara Gut Denise Feierabend, Nadja Kamer, Martina Schild, Fabienne Suter, Didier Defago, Beat Feuz, Carlo Janka, Patrick Kung, Sandro Viletta and Silvan Zurbriggen. We meet nine of these out, standing Swiss-ski athlete's ahead of their first race in Solden.
Nadja Kamer: Schwyz's daredevil
Having "[grown] up with skiing" in her native Schwyz, Nadja Kamer decided at the age of 12 that she would join a ski club. This move marked the start of a bright career, which saw the speed enthusiast specialise in downhill and super-G events.
Since her grand entrance into the ranks of the world's top skiers in 2002, the 26-year-old has achieved a total of 15 podiums, including four at FIS World Cup Championships. She entered the 2010/2011 season as the three-time Swiss champion and produced three top-ten finishes. Kamer seemed destined to etch her place on the World Cup map in a big way until a horrific accident forced a premature end to her season. During the February 2011 Are race, the Schwyzer lost control at high speed on a bend. She crashed into the safety net and was catapulted right across the slope into the opposite net. It was nothing short of a miracle that she emerged with only relatively minor injuries.
Kamer returned to the World Cup ten months later and reestablished herself as a solid force in downhill with a second place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen last February. She is hoping to beat this "highlight of her career" with a top five overall ranking in next year's downhill World Cup. We keep our fingers crossed for her.
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Dominique Gisin: Engelberg's skipjack
Dominique Gisin's first memory "is of skiing." Born into a family that is "ski-fanatic," the now 27-year-old first tested her balancing skills on the hills of Engelberg aged 18 months. "My parents love sports and passed this on to us," she says with a wide smile across her face. Today, all three Gisin children, Dominique, Marc and Michelle, are representing Switzerland on the ski-racing circuit. And the first-born has given her siblings plenty to live up to. Since bursting onto the FIS competition scene in 2001, Gisin has landed seven World Cup podiums and three World Cup wins in 83 starts. Her greatest idol is Swiss skiing legend Vreni Schneider.
However, despite her abundant talent, the skier's career has been anything but plain sailing. It is indeed a tribute to her immense passion and dedication that she has overcome her long list of injuries, including broken kneecaps, ruptured ligaments and a concussion. "I don't think about the risks, because I feel completely safe and happy," she...