All you need to know about the Swiss sport Schwingen
The excitement is starting to build here in Zug, with just a few weeks to go until the Eidgenössische Schwing- and Älplerfest. But what on earth is Schwingen?
Schwingen is a type of wrestling unique to Switzerland and has been a part of its culture since the 13th century. Although I am no expert, my nephews are, and I have learned a thing or two over the years watching them from the sideline wrestling in the sawdust. So here is a list of terms and phrases to help give your knowledge of this traditional Swiss sport a boost.
Eidgenössische Schwing- and Älplerfest
The Eidgnössische Schwing and Älplerfest is the Swiss national wrestling and alpine festival and is hosted by a different region every three years. Zug will be hosting the three-day event centred around the schwingen competition, but don't forget the stone-throwing and the big party. Pop back later in the week for more details about the festival itself.
Hosenlupf is a nickname for Schwingen - literally translated to Short/Pant (Hosen) lifting (Lupf)
An affectionate name for the big and strong Swiss wrestlers usually saved for describing those athletes who have won an Eidgenoisscher Kranz (see below)
The (mostly) edelweiss-shirt wearing athletes called Sennenschwinger, traditionally came from more rural and mountain regions of Switzerland, and today make up the majority of the field. However, an Edelweiss-shirt is not compulsory, with the rules stipulating for the Schwinger's only a subtly coloured durable shirt.
The type and colour of the shirt become the Schwinger's trademark, like Reichmut Pimin and his light blue shirt and Wicki Jöel's dark-coloured Edelweiss shirt. For the award ceremony, Sennenschwingers wear a traditional Sennenkutteli over a white shirt with black pants.
The athletes dressed all in white, Turnschwinger, are traditionally from the cities' Turnverein or sports groups and also participate in Nationalturnen (National sports). The Schwingfest is just part of disciplines including wrestling (Ringen), weightlifting and throwing stones and jumping high as long (Hochweitsprung).
A gang, of which there usually are six (but an Eidgenössischer has 8), is one round of wrestling. The first two rounds are called Anschwingen, the third and fourth Ausschwingen each allocated 6 minutes.
The final two rounds in a regular competition are called Ausstich and are like the playoffs (time allocated 7 minutes). However, at the Eidgenössische, there are two additional rounds called Kranz-Ausstich. These 8-minute rounds determine who wins a Kranz (see below) including the Schlussgang (see below) and eventually the title of Schwingerkönig.
Einteilung is the german word for allocation and is when the competition judges divide the wrestlers into matches before each round. Unlike other sports, only the first round is determined before the competition begins.
In the Sägemehl or the sawdust, is where all the action happens. Competition happens within the 14-meter diameter ring, of which there are seven rings placed around the arena. As a ritual of respect, the winner will end a match by brushing the sawdust off the losers back.
Each competitor must wear a pair of Schwinghosen (shorts), provided by the organisers, made of either dark or light thick brown material and secured with a leather belt. Competitors must with at least one hand, always hold onto the Schwinghosen of his opponent. Letting go will reset the match.
The athlete who has successfully grounded both shoulder blades of his opponent, all the while keeping at least one hand holding on to those Schwinghosen, will be declared the winner.
There are numerous techniques that a Schwinger learns to help win over his opponent with the most popular being the Kurz.
Check out the following links to videos for each of these techniques.
Gestellt is the term used when neither Schwinger is successful in grounding those two shoulder blades, but will still result in points.
Both winners and losers are awarded points, as are those matches that go undecided. The quality and effort of the wrestling also make a difference in the score allocated.
Winners, who in one movement ground their opponent onto his back, are rewarded with 10.00 points. Otherwise, a winning score of 9.75 is standard or a rare 9.50 if the winner is given a behavioural warning.
Losers are also awarded points between 8.25 and 8.75 as well as matches that end with no result 8.50 - 9.00.
The pinnacle of competition at any Schwingfest is the Schlussgang, the final round, where the two Athletes with the highest points compete. This match if resulting in a win, will decide the winner of the competition. In the case of the Eidgenössische Schwingfest in Zug, the winner will be named Schwingerkönig (see below). However, if the match goes undecided, the winner will be the one with the highest points, which could be someone who didn't participate in the Schlussgang.
In Zug, the Schlussgang is round 8 and will be fought on Sunday the 25th of August at 16:45. For those without tickets turn on the local Swiss TV station or watch from the public viewing area at the Bossard Arena.
Kranz & Kranzschwinger
In Zug, the best 15% of the wrestlers will receive a Kranz (crown). Like stars from the football world cup, the ultimate goal of any Schwinger is to collect Eidgenössischer crowns over his career. Winning a Kranz is possible at a variety of Schwingefests, but none is as coveted. Win an Eidgnössischer Kranz, and you will be referred to as an Eidgenoss for the rest of your life.
The winner of the Eidgnössische Schwingfest, with the most points, is crowned the Schwingerkönig - the King of Swiss Wrestling. He will walk away in Zug with the prized Siegermuni Kolin (the winners bull named Kolin) or 30,000chf. The Schwingerkönig becomes an instant Swiss super-star, and he will be on TV and in magazines and newspapers all over the country.
Home to all the prizes of which the field of Schwingers and Stone-throwers can choose. From cows to bells, furniture to a whirlpool, TVs and motorbikes, the Gabentempel is filled with 1 Million Swiss Francs worth of prizes. Located at the Stierenmarkt in Zug, you can visit the Gabentempel and view all the prizes as well as meet Kolin the bull from the 9th of August.
Last Name First
When referring to a competitor, the Last Name is used before the First. Hopp Reichmutt, Pirmin!
Unlike other sports, all wrestlers must be free from advertisement when competing as well as at the award ceremony. A bit like the strict rules at Wimbledon, no advertising is allowed on their shirts, pants, singlets, socks or ear protectors. However, all bets are off once they leave the stadium.
And now you are ready for the s’Eidgenössische in Zug! Just slip on your Edelweiss shirt and you will be able to keep up with the biggest weekend in Swiss sport. Pop back later this week for more on the actual festival including the highlights not to be missed and who us locals are cheering on!