The largest ever Swiss delegation at the 20th Olympic Winter Games in Turin will be going to Italy with high hopes of repeating past Olympic successes.
The Swiss Olympic Association expects the 130 athletes to win eight medals in this year's games, which take place from Feb. 10 to Feb. 26. Four years ago the Swiss team brought home 11 medals.
According to Werner Augsburger, the head of the Swiss delegation to Turin, the eight-medal target this year is based on the results obtained by Swiss athletes over the past two years.
"In elite sport, in principle you need to have three strong athletes in the same discipline to be sure of winning a medal," Augsburger told reporters.
"Furthermore, the conditions are the Olympics are difficult, because the stakes are so high."
At present it seems that the chances of winning a medal are only high in a few disciplines.
Swiss snowboarders have had an extremely strong season, dominating both the men's and women's competitions.
There have also been good results in ski jumping, bobsleigh, curling, skeleton, skiing and figure skating.
In skating all eyes are on the young Swiss prodigy and world title holder Stephane Lambiel.
After the success of Ammann in the ski jump four years ago, hopes are pinned this time on Andreas Kuttel. The athlete, who hails from canton Schwyz in central Switzerland, has had an excellent season.
Philipp Schoch, Olympic champion at Salt Lake City, is heading a strong snowboarding team, with each member tipped as a medal possibility.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2006)