Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One More Day


Sundays in Switzerland are still sacred. From 5:00 Saturday afternoon until 9:00 on Monday morning, shops remain closed as town centers are turned into ghost towns. 

Schwingen Update
Many of you expressed interest in last Saturday's post about Swiss wrestling that is known as Schwingen. Rudy Bohren, the veteran Schwingener and Jack-of-All-Trades Thun Tiger sent me some YouTube links that may interest you.

This first one is a video of the final bout last Saturday's tournament. Rudy informed me that the final bouts can last up to 12 minutes, double the usual time, unless there is a decision:

And now a video from the final bout of the last National Championship event in August of 2010 where 20 year old Kilian Wenger was crowned the king of Schwingen Wenger is enjoying a three year reign until next National Championship event in 2013. Wengen is at the end of his eighth bout. Apparently he won all eight bouts in fantastic fashion. The final bout, seen here in highlight form, ended after nearly 13 minutes of wrestling in brutal heat:

Rudy's final video clip is also of Kilian Wenger in the fifth bout of the 2010 National Championship event, beating former three time "King of Schwingen" Jörg Aberderhalden in what Rudy called "one of the most fascinating fights ever. 50'000 people holding their breath until the decision was finally valid after a specatular offensive performance and a long ground fight by both wrestlers.":

Maybe a Vespa should be my next "car" 

We had two solid practices tonight, the U-16 team at 6:00 p.m. and the Senior squad at 7:30 p.m. The week off seemed to do a lot of good for our players' bodies.

The Aare River on a Spring Day

18 hours and 47 minutes from right now, Laurie's plane touches down in Zürich, Switzerland.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

EuroBall Updates


In Geneva back in 1954, Dr. Philippe-Guy Woog invented the Broxodent. This was the name of the world's first electric toothbrush. It was not battery operated so you had to plug it into an electric outlet. I so enjoy the Swiss' love of adventure!

Tuesday was the start of A LOT of house cleaning in preparation for Laurie's arrival to Helvetica this Friday. I had to mix that with a good amount of film study for this week's very tough game against the physical 6-0 LUCAF Owls at home.

EuroBall Updates

First, CONGRATULATIONS to the Catania Elephants! They defeated the 2-8 Bergamo Lions 42-27 at home last Sunday to improve their record to 9-1 in the Italian Football League's top division. This victory locks up the regular season championship for the Red and Black thus giving Sicily's favorite team a first round BYE in the upcoming six team playoffs and a guaranteed home game in their semi-final contest.

Catania finishes their regular season with a home game this coming Sunday against the 7-3 Milan Rhinos.

In Sweden, the now 2-2 Hässleholm Hurricanes had a rough weekend dropping a game on the road to the also now 2-2 Ystad Rockets by a final tally of 26-13. This Saturday the Hurricanes will be on the road again taking on another 2-2 team, the Limhamn Griffins.

Now, as for you favorite Swiss team . . .

NLB Week #10 Results:
LUCAF 23 - Geneva 0
BYES: Basel, Fribourg, Luzern and Thun

NLB Standings:
Basel Meanmachine 6-0
LUCAF Owls 6-0
Luzern Lions 4-3
Thun Tigers 2-4
Geneva Seahawks 1-6
Fribourg Cardinals 0-6

Week #11 Games
Sunday, June 3, 2012
LUCAF (6-0) at Thun (2-4)
Geneva (1-6) at Fribourg (0-6)
Basel (6-0) at Luzern (4-3)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Holiday Monday

Today is a National Holiday in Switzerland in respect for yesterday being Pentecost Sunday. As a result, we did not hold our usual U-16 or U-19 practices tonight.

I stayed at Helvetica all day and caught up on life outside of being a tourist.

Reading is FUNdamental


Rudy Bohren gave me this Jo Nesbø mystery book to read. Given all my down time in the Bern, Barcelona and Madrid airports plus my flying time, this was a perfect time to enjoy this thriller.

O.K., I'm finally caught up on all of my blog posting.

Laurie arrives in THREE DAYS!!!

Tiger U-19 Team's Neuchatel Game Debacle

Sunday was Game Day for our U-19 team only as the Senior team was still savoring a much needed BYE week.

If you have noted from past blog pictures, our home field in nearby Frutigen is smack dab in the middle of some dairy farms. When we arrived today, behind our North end zone, the farming family was harvesting the tall grasses from their field for future feed for theit small herd of cows that like to wartch games over the visiting team's shoulders.

Son Raking

Mom and Dad hard at work also

Mom is raking and Dad is in the mini-tractor creating piles for another tractor to collect.

I found it of interest. 

Tiger Linemen Warming Up 

Hand placement is paramount 

Here come the Tigers!!! 

Neuchatel Pursuing 

The 5-0 Tiger U-19s figured to have an easy go of it against the 0-6 Neuchatel Knights. The game started right on time at 2:00 p.m. and the Tiger defense was dominant as usual.

The offense moved the ball well taking a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game thanks to a 5 yard TD pass.

On their next possession, the Tigers booted a reverse handoff that ricocheted 20 yards backwards into the farming end zone where our would-be ball carrier was tackled for a safety. Thun was still leading 7-2.

The Tigers stopped the Knights again easily and the offense rolled again, scoring a TD on a 5 yard TD run on the last play of the first quarter. The PAT sailed wide left so the Tigers were in total control 13-2 after one period.

Then things turned decidedly strange.

Before the start of the game, the refs are supposed to verify that a doctor is on duty. They had forgotten to do this and now realized their mistake.

The rules state that the home team is given a 30 minute grace period to get a physician in place if there is not one on duty at the appointed kickoff time. When the quarter ended it was already 2:25 p.m.

The referees gave us ten minutes to find the doctor. Our normal team doctor could not be here today and our team leadership group knew this well in advance apparently. One of our doctor's colleagues had promised to take his place but he was a no-show.

Thus at 2:35 p.m., the U-19 team's dream of a perfect season was now just that, a dream. The official final score of a forfeit game in the Swiss league made it Neuchatel 50 - Thun 0.

The Thun U-19s are now 5-1 on the campaign while Neuchatel improves to 1-6.

A pair of the Knight's players even did a jumping chest bump to celebrate their first victory of the season.


Afterwards, we held a scrimmage with the Knights for about 30 minutes which was rather dull, lifeless and anticlimactic after the forfeit.

I have never experienced losing in this manner, nor heard of it for that matter.

Pictures From Last Week's
Luzern Game

Because of all of my travelling and events of the past week, I have been very slow in getting these pictures of our Senior team's Luzern game last Sunday posted, sorry.

 #60 Coach Armin Haymoz

Armin usually calls the defenses for us on Sunday's. Because of injuries he had to pull double duty and suit up as our starting left guard on offense.

Did I mention that we needed to rest during our BYE week?

DL/SS Markus Moser
A Man and his Hammer!!!

FS Mario Wyssen had an
interception later in the game 

LB Rudy Bohren with a perfect form tackle 

TB Roland Andrist for
some nice yardage

OLB Johannes Brunner
puts his hat on the ball 

A Luzern receiver out
jumps us for a catch

Wily veteran WR Christian Warzecha

Next week we play the 6-0 LUCAF Owls at home as Laurie gets her first taste of Swiss football.

It should be a challenge to say the least.

LUCAF and Laurie both I suspect.

Oberaargauisch Schwingfeste

At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Rudy Bohren whisked me away to the booming metropolis of Koppigen to experience my first . . .


This is the very intense sport of Swiss wrestling that has its roots, as do most things in Switzerland, in the ancient Alpine farming and dairy industries.

This particular competition brought together the best Schwingeners from all over the canton of Bern as well as a few elite athletes from Schwingen clubs based in other Swiss cantons.

The prizes to the winners were of interest as instead of cash, almost every prize had something to do with life on a dairy farm.

Many of these prizes are on display here 

"If you can't find a partner,
use a wooden chair . . ."

I would be happy to win a huge wheel of
Mammut Cheese 

Of course, every farm could use

No, you don't win a picture of a cow,
you can win the real cow!

Other early arrivals getting some
much needed nourishment 

I opted for a special blend,
"Schwingerkaffe mit Amaretto" 

And SO good for me too!

This Milk Maid was passing out
free hats courtesy of Migros

Now, THAT'S a GREAT referee's outfit

Very natty attire indeed!

Milk Concession Stand

When was the last time you bought a glass of milk at a sporting event? I could not remember either, but I had one today from this stand when it opened. It was cold and quite good.

Later I would return for a great strawberry milkshake.

Or two.

Today's Schwingen Arena
up close

Of course it was in a cow pasture that had been groomed for the event. It was a great setting on a warm Spring day that was perfect for a little Schwingening.

This is the cow herd that was displaced
from its home pasture temporarily 

On the stump before the action starts 

Five Rings of Action

Two wrestlers at a time in each ring all day long. The rings are made out of fresh sawdust about one foot deep.

Alpine Yodelers

This is about as close to the National Anthem as the Swiss get to start a sporting event.

Time for some action!

The Starting Position 

The rules are fairly simple, the scoring system is not.

First, each wrestler must don a pair of special Schwingen wrestling shorts like you see here.

Then, both wrestlers must get their grip. This consists of the right hand gripping the back of the Schwingen shorts and the left hand grasping the legs of the opponent's shorts.

Once gripped properly, the wrestlers must both bring their backs parallel to the ground.

After all this happens, the sharp dressed referee gives them the command to start.

Hip Roll 

A match lasts six minutes unless there is a pin. A pin means that both of the opponent's shoulders touch the sawdust at the same time for the briefest of moments.

If he slams the opponent's shoulders down, the winner gets 10 points. If he rolls the opponent's shoulders over to the sawdust the winner earns only 9.75 points. In order to get an official pin, at least one of your hands has to still be gripping the opponent's Schwingen shorts.

If the bout goes the full six minutes, then both competitors are awarded points by the judges based on how hard they wrestled.

If you get pinned, maybe you can still earn some points but I'm not sure.

One other key rule, THERE ARE NO WEIGHT CLASSES!!!  That can become a real issue as the competition wears on.

All for one and one for all!

Air Born!

Every wrestler gets three bouts before the one hour lunch break. During that respite, the judges total up and re-check all of the points that each wrestler earned. The lower scoring 20% appoximately are excused from further competition. The remaining wrestlers then get two more afternoon bouts before partying until the wee hours of the morning.

Leg Lock

 Possible 10 Point Pin Slam

Uniforms are just everday working clothes 

Possible 9.75 Point Pin Roll

Taste good? 

Is that a punch below the belt?

Two BIG Boys 

Richter Scale Time 

I hope that's mud

They are in a cow pasture after all.

Cleaning the ring

After every few matches, workers come out to rake the ring or, like this fellow, sweep some sawdust off of the grass and back onto the ring.

What do you do with him now?

On the left is Christian Stucki

He is one of the premier Schwingen wrestlers in all of Switzerland and a GIANT of a man!

How did the Calanda Broncos miss signing him?

Stucki's smaller opponent is in trouble


Parading of the livestock prizes 

No, not the two Heidi Look-Alike Contest winners in the front, I mean that black and white cow behind them as well as . . .

This horse and two more cows 

Again, this sport has deep farming roots but nothing says that if you win livestock, or anything else for that matter, that you can't turn around and sell it for some quick cash.


Lilting music during
the mid-morning action

The Post-Pin Brush Off 

A tradition in Schwingen is that if you do pin an opponent, you must wipe the sawdust off of his back as soon as possible.

Sawdust Flying

Don't get on this referee's wrong side

Looks like he could still wrestle a few bouts without any problem to me.

I wonder if he would someday like to play in the OL for the Tigers?

Ten points on the horizon 

Head Stand

Swiss Milk Maids

Watch that knee!

Close your mouth! 

The team flag of the
sponsoring Schwingen Club 

Stucki the Giant at it again

I hope that sawdust is deep enough

Mid-Afternoon Parade

You HAVE to have a marching band

More Milk Maids 

Cool watering hole for the competitors 

Oh God, we're doing "The Wave"


Besides wanting to see Schwingen in general, I also was there to root for Rudy who is both the Tigers' Team President and the energizing soul of the team as a player.

Rudy donning the Schwingen shorts 

Rudy is 31 years old and considers himself old for Schwingen, since I am going to turn 65 in July, I felt like a museum piece. 

Given his age, Rudy stated that his goal today was simply to do well enough in the morning session to earn the two extra bouts in the afternnon.

Rudy's opponent looks young and big . . .

 But Rudy is a crafty veteran

Rudy by a PIN!!!

 Rudy brushing off his victim's back

Uh-Oh Rudy vs. another veteran wrestler

They battled to a draw

Our Warrior 

Rudy doing some heavy lifting

Rudy lifting and . . .


A good way to dislocate
a shoulder on landing

On the day, Rudy won two matches and tied two others after suffering a defeat in his first match. His goal of wrestling five times had been met but he was not happy with his performance.

Great Warriors rarely are.

As I said earlier, the post game festivities would last until 2:00 a.m. according to Rudy. I thus opted to take the bus and train combo back to Thun to get some rest before the U-19s game Sunday afternoon.

As I walked to the bus stop only a few hundred yards from the Schwingen stadioum, I discovered another poosible . . .

New car to buy when
I get back to California

It's a Qi, straight from "Words with Friends."

Sleek and it comes with a
Smiley Face

I also came across more wood pile art
for David Hicks' perusal

I don't think that she is a big Schwingen fan