When Ruedi Wild decided to become a professional triathlete, he already had experience of being paid for a sport he loved, having been a professional downhill skier until 2000.
Being Swiss and with 1988 Olympic downhill gold medallist Pirmin Zurbriggen and double Olympic slalom champion Vreni Schneider as his sporting heroes, skiing was the obvious sport for him to follow while growing up on the banks of Lake Zurich.
“I was active in the gymnastics club when winter sports and especially skiing started to fascinate me the most,” Ruedi says. “Turning round the gates quickly was a lot of fun”.
He was soon accepted into the Zurich Ski Association Alpin Kader and was able to measure himself against international competition for the first time.
In the meantime Ruedi had competed in his first triathlon at Egelsee in 1994 at the age of 12. He really enjoyed the versatility and variety of the training and went on to win a national title while still at school. When he reached junior level, he started doing more triathlon-specific training.
That led to an international junior team debut at the European Championships in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, which was followed by his first success at the European Junior Duathlon Championships in Mafra, Portugal.
Since then Ruedi has built a strong career at elite level, including an appearance for Switzerland in the London Olympics back in 2012. More recently his 2019 campaign included notable performances which included victory in Challenge Lisboa, second in IRONMAN Hamburg and victory in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon.
Wild is proud of having been successful at all stages of triathlon during an illustrious journey in the sport. From junior level right through to Kona.
Ruedi says the change from skiing to triathlon was partly down to the weather, explaining: “It was always cold in winter time, so triathlon and chasing the warm weather sounded like a nice way to escape”.
That wasn’t the case though when he had to run barefoot at an event because his fingers were too cold to put on his shoes.
“I started to pick up some little stones a few kilometres into the race and suffered badly,” he recalled.
“But I made it to the finish and got treatment in the medical tent afterwards.”
Wild has been a regular in the Swiss national team since 2000 and representing his country is clearly something he cherishes.
“There’s no holding back with Team Switzerland,” he says.
“You put in 100% from the very beginning, as you are also racing for your teammates and country.”