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ETH Life - wissen was laeuft ETH Life - wissen was laeuft

ETH - Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
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Published: 09.03.2006, 06:00
Modified: 09.03.2006, 13:50
Olympic gold for ETH sports student Daniela Meuli
To study and to triumph

With her victory in the giant parallel slalom at the recent Winter Olympics in Turin, the 24-year-old snowboarder Daniela Meuli gathered in Switzerland's third gold Olympic medal. Her triumph generated a wave of enthusiasm at ETH Zurich, where Meuli is studying to be a gymnastics and sports instructor. At ETH, it has always been possible to combine studies and top-level sport.

Norbert Staub

A success worthy of the history books: on Thursday the 23rd of February, in Bardonecchia, the two-time Alpine World Cup Champion was – not quite unexpectedly – awarded the Olympic gold after beating her German rival Amelie Kober. The news of her victory was greeted with joy and pride at ETH Zurich: "All of us at the Institute of Human Movement Sciences (IBSW) are delighted with Daniela Meuli's achievement in Turin," said Kurt Murer, head of the institute. At the moment Daniela Meuli is in the final phase of her ETH training as a gymnastics and sports instructor (a course soon to be terminated). Hauke Hennecke, Professor of Microbiology and Head of the ETH Biology Department, joined the crowd of well-wishers: "I'm very pleased that a member of our department has become an Olympic victor.“

"Totally present"

"Daniela Meuli has always struck me as a very concentrated, determined student," says Kurt Murer. "She is an intelligent young woman, versatile in sports and really at the top in terms of co-ordination and physical condition." As in sport, in her ETH courses she was always totally present. Kurt Murer: "Naturally she has been absent from time to time for training or competitions. But she always arranged this with lecturers and teachers in advance, and the ETH made it possible for her to reconcile sport and study.“ She also passed all her exams first time round, says the IBSW head, including the demanding sports physiology test, something not to be taken for granted. "I feel confident that she will also master the final stage of her course."

Flexible administration

It is in the nature of things that a very great number of top Swiss athletes have been seen on the ETH sports instructor diploma course. The ETH Olympic contingent in Turin bears this out (see box right). "But the new sports science course will also allow students to engage in top-level sports during their studies," explains Kurt Murer. In addition, the new credit system will be helpful: for example, on request it allows basic examinations to be portioned out over the Bachelor’s course, leaving room in between for training and competition.

About Daniela Meuli

Born on 6th November 1981; resident in Davos; 182 cm/76 kg. Profession: ETH student (Gymnastics and Sports Instructor II); hobbies: wind-surfing, beach volleyball, mountain-biking, hockey, music, reading.

Most important successes:

auflistungszeichen Olympia victor in Giant Parallel Slalom 2006
auflistungszeichen World champion in Parallel Slalom 2005
auflistungszeichen Alpine World Cup victories 2004 and 2005
auflistungszeichen Overall World Cup Champion 2005
auflistungszeichen ISF Junior World Champion in Parallel Slalom 1998 and 1999
auflistungszeichen FIS Junior World Champion in Parallel Slalom 2001


Engagement and determination in sport and studies: Olympic snowboarding champion and ETH sports student Daniela Meuli. Confirmation of an abiding dominance.

Flexible and uncomplicated administration conditions for the promotion of top-level sport are also present at ETH. "It is also important, though, that students and teachers in other ETH departments be more actively informed right at the beginning of their studies," adds Kurt Murer.

Exacting logistics

"Daniela Meuli's Olympic success in Turin once again shows quite clearly that top-level sport and ETH studies are completely compatible,“ finds Kaspar Egger, Director of the Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ). Egger is a university sports instructor of many years of experience, has coached top athletes for several decades and today also advises students who are actively engaged in in high-level sports. It astonishes him that Daniela Meuli reached the world top in such a logistically-demanding sport: "Snowboarders, unlike runners, can't train just anytime and anywhere."

Athletes as university image-bearers

"For me ETH is a university that promotes excellence not only in research and teaching, but also in sport. This could occur somewhat more dynamically, however," adds Kaspar Egger. In Germany, for example, according to Egger, universities compete with each other to attract the best athletes. "But I find it a bad idea to give weight to sport at the cost of intellectual pursuits, as is standard at US universities. Entry requirements should be the same for all students." On the other hand it was important that the university administration offer flexible solutions to athletes studying there.

ETH Olympic athletes

Daniela Meuli was not the only ETH member to earn sporting accolades for Switzerland at the recent winter Olympics in Turin. Ski-jumper Andreas Küttel, also often in the spotlight, studied like Meuli at ETH to become a gymnastics and sports instructor. He narrowly missed winning a medal, finishing 5th and 6th on the normal and the large jumps respectively. Three ETH sports diploma graduates, Sandra Cattaneo, Monika Leuenberger and Kathrin Lehmann, belonged to the women's ice-hockey team, which took 7th place. Two further ETH IBSW athletes, Cora Huber (10th in the two-man bobsled race) and Tanja Morel (7th in the skeleton sled race), also competed in Turin.

ETH Institute for Sport and Motive Science:
Results of Winter Olympics in Turin:

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