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Rebirth in the Amazon – Sport

To describe Patrick Fischer’s biography as moving would be to describe a roller coaster as a children’s carousel. The coach of the Swiss national ice hockey team has had so many ups and downs that he could write a book about it. Wait, the book is there. “Game Time: Two Worlds. One Way” is the somewhat cryptic title.

Anyone who reads it gets a sporting vita that alone has more curves than a Formula 1 course. Professional debut at the age of 17 in the Swiss national league, 1999 Swiss champion with HC Lugano, 2002 with HC Davos. At the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, the forward caught the eye of a certain Wayne Gretzky, then owner and head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. At the age of 31, Fischer, the “boy” from a humble background in the small town of Zug, suddenly played in the big NHL. But not for long.

In February 2007, Fischer suffered an adductor tear in a game against the Florida Panthers. His season is over – and so is he. After the operation, he discharges himself from the hospital, goes to a hotel, lies down on the bed and clears the minibar. That’s how he feels: “I was just empty.” He doesn’t even have the energy to resign.

Then, after retiring, he goes through a kind of second puberty

In Phoenix, those in charge tell him through the flower that they have no more use for him. Fischer accepts an offer worth millions from Russia, terminates his contract after just five games and returns home to his junior club EV Zug. But it wasn’t just a muscle that broke in Florida. In Switzerland, where ice hockey is shown live on free TV during prime time, in Germany he could earn an unimaginable 500,000 euros net per season. Another three or four years. Despite this, Fischer retired from professional ice hockey in 2009 at the age of 33. And his life takes the next turn.

The sunny boy, who describes himself as a party-loving but self-doubting teenager, is going through a kind of second puberty. In his mid-thirties he is looking for his true identity. He finds them in the Amazon, in the jungle of South and Central America. For weeks, Fischer lives with his brother in the most primitive conditions among the Shipibo, building wooden huts, sleeping on the floor, listening to the jungle and to himself. With Lakota-Sioux he rides through the expanses of South Dakota. And feels that he wants to do more for this world than shooting rubber discs into a plastic net. Not everyone understands that. Some assume that Fischer, “Chief Hockey” went on an esoteric trip while searching for clues about himself.

In Peru and Costa Rica he and his brother initiated several environmental projects

Since December 2016, Patrick Fischer, 46, has been the head coach of the Swiss “Nati”. In 2018 they won World Championship silver. Expectations have soared since then, and Fischer is doing nothing to dampen them. At the World Cup in Helsinki, he now has what is probably the most talented squad of his tenure with seven NHL players. “We have a lot of skill here,” he says, a young, talented team that “but can also play hard”. Italy (5:2) and Denmark (6:0) have already felt this harshness, even though they acted too playfully at the start. “We had 35 A-chances against Italy,” says Fischer, but they had “ummikugelet” too many.

Fischer knows that he polarizes. After dropping out in the quarterfinals at the Olympic Games in Beijing (“we somehow screwed that up”), some critics questioned him, now they expect a medal from him again, at least. “I’m happy that something is expected of us,” says Fischer, “it would be bad if they didn’t trust us.” On the last matchday of Group A there will be a duel with Germany, possibly then in a three-way battle with Canada for group victory. “The Germans have recently taught us a few difficult defeats,” says Fischer, at the 2018 Olympics and at the World Cup last year. “It’s going to be a tight box again.” But Patrick Fischer now knows where to go when things get too tight for him. Anyone who meets him at the World Cup in Helsinki will meet a relaxed elder surfer in his mid-forties who effortlessly switches between English, French, Schwyzerdütsch, Italian and Standard German in interviews. He bought land with his brother in Peru and Costa Rica and initiated several environmental projects. “I’m there more often,” he says, “I need that.” Patrick Fischer now knows his way.

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