A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Ski champion's wish comes true at CERN

10/01/09

She could take her pick of extreme adventures—rock climbing, skydiving, trekking through some exotic wilderness. The Swiss TV show Sportpanorama gave Dominique Gisin, winner of two International Ski Federation World Cup downhill victories in 2009, the chance to do anything she'd like. She chose to visit CERN.

Ski champion's wish comes true at CERN

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Photo courtesy of 4sports & Entertainment AG

She could take her pick of extreme adventures—rock climbing, skydiving, trekking through some exotic wilderness. The Swiss TV show Sportpanorama gave Dominique Gisin, winner of two International Ski Federation World Cup downhill victories in 2009, the chance to do anything she'd like.

 

She chose to visit CERN.

"It's always been a dream of mine," she says. As a physics-smitten high school student, Gisin had heard about experiments at the international particle-physics research center, a few hours' drive from her hometown of Engelberg, Switzerland. "I never had the time to see CERN, though," the 24-year-old says, "and I also wasn't sure it was really possible."

CERN physicists made her dream come true on July 3 with a close-up look at the seven-story face of the Compact Muon Solenoid detector and the Large Hadron Collider's supercooled magnets.

"It was an awesome experience," Gisin says, "especially because everything was explained to me by a physicist. I never expected it to be so huge." She adds that she ran out of time to get all her questions answered, and plans to learn more about physics on her own.

For their part, the show's producers say they were happy to give viewers something unexpected and cutting-edge. "Dominique is known for her versatility," says Thomas von Grünigen, "but still we were quite surprised about her pick."

Between conversations about particles and magnets, Gisin talked skiing with Michael Hoch, a CMS physicist and professional ski instructor. The lab is full of amateur skiers; there's a small ski station just 10 minutes from the laboratory, and members of the CERN Ski Club organize frequent outings.

"It was very nice to find out that we shared these two interests," Gisin says. "And I hope there are more skiers now who will be interested in CERN and its research, too."

The episode can be viewed online at: http://tiny.cc/diqwO

Tona Kunz and Rachel Carr

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