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Swiss Women Striving for Success in '07
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Led by 2006 world all-around finalist Ariella Käslin, the Swiss women's team has high hopes for the upcoming Europeans, and September's Worlds in Stuttgart. "Stuttgart is the goal, and we would like to be in the top 15," head coach Eric Demay told IG.

Linda Stämpfli

The French-born Demay said the Swiss team is busy preparing for its two most important competitions of 2007: the European Championship (April 26-29 in Amsterdam) and the World Championships (Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart).

As a team, the Swiss placed 10th at the 2006 Europeans in Volos, Greece, and 17th at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. In Stuttgart, the top 12 teams will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and others will earn individual berths.

Demay cited Käslin, Danielle Englert and Linda Stämpfli as the team's probable leaders this year. Missing will be 2004 Olympian Melanie Marti, the top Swiss all-arounder at the 2004 and 2005 Europeans, and the 2005 Worlds. Marti retired after the 2006 Worlds.

"The experience of Danielle, Linda and Ariella, combined with the younger girls, will be a very good (impression)," Demay said. "For individuals, Ariella is strong on vault and has the possibility of a final in Stuttgart, but she needs to have perfect preparation."

Demay said Käslin did not compete at the American Cup held earlier this month in Florida, because of an injury to the talus ligament in her ankle.

"Now she's begun with normal training, and I think she can compete a simple program in two weeks in the match with France in Switzerland," Demay said.

Käslin placed 22nd all-around at the 2005 Worlds in Melbourne, and 18th all-around at the 2006 Worlds. In recent European Championships, she was 13th all-around in 2004; fourth on vault in 2005; and sixth on vault in 2006.

Englert took Käslin's place at the American Cup, but competed on uneven bars only because of an injury to the underside of her foot. "I didn’t want to take risk near the European Championships," Demay explained.

Demay said the Swiss are still in their selection period for the European Championships, but they are optimistic for success in Amsterdam.

"We know that Ariella has the possibility to make a final and maybe win a medal in the Europeans, the first in the history of Swiss women's gymnastics," Demay said. "But with the injury, she’s very late in preparation. In Amsterdam, one or two finals is realistic. More would be fantastic."

International Gymnast Magazine Related Feature
"Swiss Thrill-Seeker" - Käslin profile (January/February 2007)

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