Bruegger: Elite para-alpine skiing getting tougher

The Swiss skier is 31-years-old heading into his third Paralympic Games in Sochi, and talks about the intense competition now faced by para-alpine skiers and increases in the quality of the field since his first Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano in 1998. 27 Feb 2014
Michael Bruegger

Swiss skier Michael Bruegger is now a veteran of para-alpine skiing heading into his third Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

ⒸMichael Knaus

“For everybody it’s the same and the other skiers don’t sleep on the training, they’re also training a lot and they are fast skiers but I am feeling good and I will give my best.”

When Switzerland’s Michael Bruegger takes his place in the start gates at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, do not expect him to be there for very long.

“I very much like speed,” Breugger said.

“My motivation every time I ski is to be one of the fastest. I like the competition because I’m a competitive man. In the summer I do dirt bike racing. I need that to have the competition with other people.”

Bruegger made his international debut for Switzerland in 1998 and impressed on the biggest of stages straight away.

He won a silver medal in the giant slalom standing at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games at the age of 16.

He said at that point he was not under any pressure to perform, but to replicate those feats again at Sochi 2014 will take a much improved performance.

“In 1998 it was easier to win a medal, now it’s very hard because the other skiers are good competitors and they can win a medal and make the podium,” Bruegger said.

“There’s a lot more training now. Also in the preparation in summer you must go to the gym and be very professional. You must make more time for training.”

The 31-year-old considers his first Paralympic Games medal in 1998, along with a silver medal he won in downhill at Vancouver 2010 and a silver and two bronze medals at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships at La Molina in 2013 as highlights of his career.

He is hoping he will soon be able to add a medal from Sochi 2014 to that list.

“When you are fourth place or fifth place it’s not the goal, I want to win a medal,” he said.

“It’s my goal and I do everything for this. It’s hard though, it’s (competition) one day, everything must be right, you must have good feelings, the snow must be good and you must have a good day.

“For everybody it’s the same and the other skiers don’t sleep on the training, they’re also training a lot and they are fast skiers but I am feeling good and I will give my best.”

Bruegger’s preparation for the 2013/14 IPC Alpine Skiing season was interrupted after he broke his hand in August 2013 and then fell ill twice.

Despite this, he rebounded well and is pleased with the way things got back on track.

“At the first World Cup races I felt very good and had some podium places.”

“I feel good and am skiing well so it has been a good season.”

In 2013-14, Bruegger made the podium six times at IPC Alpine Skiing World Cups and eventually finished in the overall top ten in downhill, super-G and super combined.

Despite Bruegger’s competitive nature and desire for success at Sochi 2014, he says the joy skiing itself has brought him is something that is quite unique.

“You can’t always be the best on the snow but everybody does their best for good skiing and for me it makes me happy to go training,” he said.

“Now I have a lot friends all over the world because of skiing and I see a lot of different places which is cool, and not everybody can do that.”