Fränzi Aufdenblatten, the Swiss speed racer with one World Cup win in her palmares, competed in the 2012 Gigathlon as a member of Swiss Olympic’s 100-year celebration team with another 5 Swiss Olympians. Tasked to represent the Olympic values of respect, friendship and top performance, Aufdenblatten's team also included triathlete Magali Di Marco, snowboarder Gilles Jaquet, track cyclist Franco Marvulli and curler Ralph Stöckli, along with Swiss Olympic director Roger Schnegg.
The Gigathlon is a special event organized by Swiss Olympic, the umbrella organization for Swiss sports, since 2002. It is a mixture of sport, discovery, team experience and testing personal limits where it is possible to participate as a single athlete, or in teams of two or five. The gigathlon consists of inline skating, running, swimming, mountain biking and road cycling over two days. Organized around Olten in central Switzerland this year, the Urban Saturday on 30th June saw a 52 km inline skating, 9km swimming, 54km mountain biking, 105km road cycling and 24km running stages, followed by the “Celebrating Sunday” with 93km cycling, 3.2km swimming, 40km inline skating, 28km running and 52km mountain biking stretches.
As one of 5490 participants on a steaming hot summer day, skier Aufdenblatten had to get used to for her quite a different element as she swam the 9km from Altreu to Solothurn in the river Aare. After struggling to find the best current in the river she took direction from a group of ducks who seemed to find the fastest way, and commented: “The gigathlon is like the Olympics: it’s a one big family.”