1956 Swiss Olympic Gymnasts

From the Jan. 18, 1956, Geneva Free Press:

Stopping only long enough to eat and sing a few songs, the 1956 Swiss Gymnastic Olympic Team paid Geneva-on-the-Lake a brief visit last night (Jan. 17, 1956).

Olympic Swiss team020

Under the direction of Adoph Haefely, vice-president of the Swiss-American Gymnastic Association, the manager as well as 15 members of the Swiss group visited his home last night for two hours, after visiting Niagara Falls.

Mr. Haefely is business manager of the tour which will cover 20 cities from coast to coast, preparing the ten man team for the 1956 Olympics to be held in Australia this summer.

Second to Russia in the 1952 Olympics, the Swiss Gymnasts are currently rated by experts as the best in the world in their field. They finished only 6.9 points behind the USSR in 1952.

Composed of teachers, laborers and government workers, the 10-man team is undefeated in world dual meet competition. … Purpose of the nation-wide tour is to demonstrate the athletic prowess of another nation in a sport which is not fully exploited here in the United States.

…Traveling with the gymnasts is a Swiss Yodeling and Accordian act. They have received world acclaim for their music, and will also compete this summer.   …

One of the many things that fascinate the gymnasts is the American way of life. They repeatedly stated that the Americans have so much freedom in their social lives.

Most of the Swiss group are left handed, eating only with a knife and fork, the European custom.

Swiss women do not wear makeup as much as the Americans. They have natural rosy complexions and do not pamper with cosmetics.

Rita Roschacker, the only girl traveling with the squad, remarked that if a cosmetic manufacturer would set up shop in Switzerland he would soon go broke. Only city girls and models wear makeup, she said.

Most of the Swiss team have never seen a carival or circus. They remarked that festival time is the big event in Switzerland each year. It compares with the Americans’ World Series, one of the group remarked.

Each member of the team was given a Geneva-on-the-Lake pennant and post cards of the famous summer resort. Immediately the group started waving the banners as if the Olypic games were to be held in the Haefely front room.

Earlier in the day the group saw Niagara Falls.

…Possessing a tremendous appetite, the Swiss team were feted to a Swiss smorgasbord, featuring imported cheese and wines from their homeland.

After the snack, which closely resembled a banquet, they sang a few folk songs and watched television.

Postscript: The Swiss team got skunked at the Olympics that year, winning only two silver and one bronze medals, to come in fifth place behind the Soviet Union, Hungary, Japan and Germany.

Who was Adolph Haefely? The article suggests he was a resident of GOTL. Can any of our readers shed light on this mystery?

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