Switzerland's "fastest postman" loses his last race
Zurich (RWH) The podium was always his goal. "When you come fourth, you always stand in the mud at the award ceremony," was his reasoning. True to this pragmatic resolution, Sepp Benz stood on the winners' podium in many races, was Olympic champion, world champion and European champion. Now the "fastest postman in Switzerland" – as the pusher of bob pilot Erich Schärer was once called – has lost his last race to an overpowering phenomenon of time. On February 5th, Josef "Sepp" Benz, who after his bobsleigh career became a successful official with the Swiss Federation and the International Luge Federation (FIL), died in Zurich at the age of 76.
"With Sepp Benz, the sliding family has not just lost a successful Olympian and World Champion, but also a great enthusiast who was all about sport. The fascination that Sepp Benz always felt for the sport of sliding, whether for luge or bobsleigh, could be felt in every conversation you had with him," the President of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (IBSF), Ivo Ferriani, said in a tribute. "He always offered criticism constructively, never hurtfully, always open to discussion. We will always remember him as a successful athlete and unique official. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
He won many of those friends during his time as an athlete and official. He is forever connected to the Luge Federation (FIL) anyway. The random generator, which decides on the type of upcoming controls at the FIL events by light signal, found its place in the FIL regulations thanks to Benz's commitment. Before the introduction of the "Benz Machine", multi-coloured balls in a covered basket still decided on the type of control.
His thoughts about new competition formats for luge were also innovative. The reaction start, which to his regret was only partially integrated into the team relay, and above all the sprint competition, anchored in the World Cup programme since 2015, are based on his initiatives. As chairman of the FIL Sports Committee and Executive Committee member from 2007 to 2014 he brought in these and other. The enterprising Benz also initiated the integration of the Swiss luge team as a training association with the German World Cup team.