Long-time elite squad athletes Katherine Choong and Benjamin Blaser announced their retirement from the national team at the end of the 2021 season. With Ilia Wieland, Fabrice Rohner and Leon Niederberger, three athletes from the junior squad also say goodbye to competitive sport.

The 29 year old Katherine Choong looks back on a long competitive career. Between 2004 and 2013, the Jurassian won 24 Swiss Cups, including nine Swiss championship titles. Today's lawyer has also been a member of the national sport climbing team since 2006.

In 2008 she won the European Youth Cup in Wuppertal (GER) for the first time on the international stage. As a teenager, she competed in 2006 European Youth Cups and World Youth Championships between 2011 and 28. She stood on the podium 18 times. A big highlight during her junior competitions was the world title in the youth A category, which she won in Valence (FRA) in 2009.

Katherine Choong (Photo Joel Schweizer)
Katherine Choong (Image SAC / Joel Schweizer)

In the World Cup, the 7th place in Kranj (SLO) 2018 was her best result. In addition, she also achieved a great result at the World Championships in Innsbruck 2018 with 17th place. In 2019 and 2020 she also placed in the top 20 at the European Championships. In total, Katherine Choong took part in almost 170 competitions. With her, a great personality leaves competitive sport.

Benjamin Blaser: 19 years in competitive sport

Was competitive sport at the age of 19 Benjamin Blaser from Ried b. Kerzers is an active athlete for a year longer than his teammate. The 31-year-old from Friborg competed in his first national competition in Geneva in 2003 at the age of 13. He won it straight away and became the U14 Swiss bouldering champion. In 2009 he was also able to call himself the lead Swiss champion. He was also on the podium at the Swiss Cup 17 times.

Benjamin Blaser at the Bouldering World Cup in Meiringen (Image SAC / David Schweizer)
Benjamin Blaser at the Bouldering World Cup in Meiringen (Image SAC / David Schweizer)

Internationally, Beni Blaser achieved five top ten results as a junior in 2008 and 2009. The 6th place at the European Youth Series in Kranj (SLO) was the highlight. He achieved six top twenty results in the World Cup and at the European Elite Championships. The best result here was 11th place at the Bouldering World Cup in Vienna (AUT) 2011 and most recently 20th place at the European Bouldering Championships in Munich (GER) 2017. Beni Blaser was an integral part of 2004 years in 2007 and from 2021 to 16 the national sport climbing team.

Young talents Fabrice Rohner, Ilia Wieland and Leon Niederberger also resign

The 18-year-old from Eastern Switzerland Fabrice Rohner was in the national team for five years and has been climbing competitions in the Rheintal Cup since 2011. His Swiss results read like a fairy tale: He was on the podium 34 times out of 30 starts. Between 2013 and 2018 the Thurgau won 16 Swiss Cup competitions and was Swiss champion six times. In 2014 he won the triple (lead, boulder and speed) in the U12. Fabrice Rohrer was also able to record top international results: He was on the second top podium at the European Youth Cup in Bruneck (ITA) in 2018 and also made it into the EYC Top Ten twice this year. He was tenth at the 2018 European Youth Championships in Imst (AUT) and 2018th at the 13 World Youth Championships in Moscow (RUS).  

Eastern Swiss young climber Fabrice Rohner (Image SAC / Joel Schweizer)
Eastern Swiss young climber Fabrice Rohner (Image SAC / Joel Schweizer)

The 17 year old Ilia Wieland competed in her first sport climbing competition in 2012 at the age of eight - the Rheintal Cup in Dornbirn. Four years later she won the Zurich climbing championship for the first time. On the national stage, the Chur woman showed herself for the first time as the Swiss speed champion in 2016. She won this title again in 2019 and 2021. She also won a Swiss Cup in the lead discipline twice, most recently in August 2021 in Villeneuve. The native of Graubünden has been a member of the national team since 2018 and also showed very good results internationally: in 2019 she was tenth at the European Youth Cup in Soure. Thanks to her talent in all three disciplines, she also achieved 10th place in the combined ranking at this year's European Youth Championships in Perm (RUS).

Ilia Wieland (Image SAC / David Schweizer)
Ilia Wieland (Image SAC / David Schweizer)

Leon Niederberger from Oberhofen started climbing competitions in 2016. The now 15-year-old followed in the footsteps of his older, successful sister Joëlle. Leon Niederberger was bouldering and lead Swiss champion of the U2019 in 14. This was followed by membership of the national team in 2020. There were only very few competitions in the Corona year. In 2021, the Bernese Oberland was celebrated as the lead Swiss champion and achieved the best result of his young career internationally with 15th place at the European Youth Cup in Graz.

Leon Niederberger (Image SAC / David Schweizer)
Leon Niederberger (Image SAC / David Schweizer)

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Credits: picture and text Swiss Alpine Club SAC

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