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21 January 2020 | in Winter World University Games

Dual career discussion draws full house during Winter Universiade 2021 countdown

Highlighting the importance of empowering athletes to maximise their education, the Lucerne regional government hall was near full capacity as former athletes, sports leaders and dual career experts discussed how student-athletes could plan for life beyond the world of competitive sport 


Swiss athletes entering the field of play during the opening ceremonies of the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade 

LUCERNE — With one-year-to-go before the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade not even a kool-aid coloured mascot arriving in town by boat with a twelve-member brass band in tow could draw quite the crowds as a discussion about dual career for emerging elite athletes.


Learning from the Best

Six leaders in sport and education held court before a nearly standing room only crowd inside the Lucerne regional government hall.  

Olympian and whitewater kayak world champion Mike Kurt kicked off the discussion. Event emcee Lorenz Unsprung ensured the energy of animated back-and-forth exchanges continued throughout. 


“It is central to the Swiss sports system that athletes can complete a course of study concurrently with their sporting activities, said Kurt, who currently serves as the president of Swiss University Sports.


“The participants in the discussion agreed that Winter Universiade 2021 is an ideal platform to create new impetus for the dual career, and to further improve the compatibility of top-class sport and studies in cooperation with universities and professional associations. 


Continuing the dual career line from the podium position came a panel of personalities from education and sport comprised of Dr. Martina Caroni, vice-rector of University of Lucerne; Dr. Sarah Springman, rector of ETZ Zurich; Swiss Ice Hockey CEO, Patrick Bloch; Lucerne curler and 2019 Junior World Championship medalist, Selina Witschonke; and Michael Schmid, an elite rower turned sports science doctoral candidate. 



Beginning Lucerne 2021 Countdown in Style

Finalists for the Winter Universiade 2021 mascot design, with the winner Luisa Zürcher in the centre

While the dual career discussion provided a key touchpoint to the day, the talk didn’t start the one-year-to-go festivities. Instead, the opening honour began as a mishmash of Swiss folklore came alive during the mascot unveil as a furry neon-pink creature made its first public appearance. The punctuation mark came when the skinny blue legged creatures emerged from the cover of mist for an embrace with the mascot designer Luisa Zürcher in the Lucerne city harbour. 


When asked about her creative inspiration, Zürcher, an animation student at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts said, “When else will I ever be able to design something I can hug?” 


With 365 days to go to Winter Universiade 2021, hug they did. With the Kugel band playing, they danced and danced. 


Elite Athletes Lend Support

 The Swiss delegation takes in the sights of the athletes' village as the competitors check out their home inside the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade for the first time

Organisers turned to a cadre of former Universiade competitors as a lead-in the one-year-to-go-event, including Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medalist Selina Gasparin and Salomé Kora, a Taipei 2017 gold medalist and IAAF Diamond League 4x100m relay titlest. In helping to promote the event Kora, Swiss University Sport's 2017 summer athlete of the year noted how personal dedication, a compassionate trainer and an understanding university converged to allow the Taipei 201 Summer Universiade athletics gold medalist to progress as both a sprinter and teacher in parallel.      


“To bring my studies and sport under one roof, I needed flexibility not only for myself, but also from my trainer and my university. Having this support was so important to follow, and eventually finish, my student plan,” Kora said.