Switzerland is unlikely to reach the medal podium in Winnipeg, but the team celebrated as if it had captured the gold medal after ousting archrival Germany with a 1-0 win in Preliminary Round play. However, among fans in Canada, relatively little is known about Swiss women’s hockey.
Here are five interesting facts about this emerging nation, which is a sentimental favourite locally, not just because of its underdog status, but also due to the presence of people of Swiss descent in Manitoba (the Avenue de Meurons and Point de Meuron in Winnipeg commemorate the settlement of a 19th century Swiss regiment):
1) Switzerland’s Monika Leuenberger, 33, is one of just three players at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Winnipeg who also took part in the inaugural Worlds in Ottawa in 1990. The other two are Canada’s Vicky Sunohara, 36, and Germany’s Christina Fellner, 33.
2) The first women’s hockey team in Switzerland was founded in 1980 in Fribourg, which is also known for the Fribourg-Gotteron hockey club in the top Swiss League, and is the birthplace of IIHF president René Fasel.
3) Some notable foreign players who have suited up for Swiss women’s hockey clubs include Judy Diduck (Canada), Dana Antal (Canada), Tia Reima (Finland), and Riikka Nieminen (Finland), and Sue Merz (USA) among others.
4) The most goals Switzerland has ever scored in a single World Championship game came in an 8-3 thrashing of Norway on .
5) Switzerland brought a female head coach (Diane Michaud) to the 2004 IIHF World Women’s Championship, the only time out of eight appearances in top-level IIHF competition that this has occurred.