Arosa natives Monika Waidacher #15, Nina Waidacher #16 and Isabel Waidacher #78 during the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Arosa’s Waidacher trio writes history
Switzerland wrote history at the last Women’s World Championship. For the first time three sisters have suited up simultaneously for the national team.
Forwards Monika Waidacher, Nina Waidacher, and Isabel Waidacher were happy to talk about this unique experience with IIHF.com and in February their hometown Arosa in the Swiss Alps will host the Final Olympic Qualification.
“We always hoped that someday we would play together on this team,” said Monika, 26. “We all have the same dream and work really hard all season for it. So it is amazing that this year it finally happened. It’s fun to be here with my sisters, especially since we are also best friends.”
The three forwards are already teammates with the ZSC Lions Zurich women’s team. Monika and Nina also played NCAA hockey together at the College of St. Scholastica, a private college in Duluth, Minnesota. And they were not newcomers to the Women’s Worlds: this was Monika’s fifth time, Nina’s third time, and Isabel’s second time. But being together in Kamloops was the icing on the cake.
“It is such a great accomplishment for all three of us,” said Nina, 24. “It is amazing to share this experience with your sisters. We all get along really well and we are having a lot of fun with the girls here in Canada.”
Isabel, 22, neatly summed up the style of each sister: “Nina is the goal-getter, Monika is the hard-working player, and I am the passer.”
The sisters enjoy watching other top players and learning from their styles. For instance, Monika admires Patrick Kane’s stickhandling and Alexander Ovechkin’s shot. Nina likes star Swiss defenceman Roman Josi, and salutes Hilary Knight for being able to make a living from the women’s game.
Nina was the only one of the three who cracked the 2014 Olympic team that won bronze with a 4-3 victory over Sweden. It was the first Olympic hockey medal for any Swiss team since the 1928 and 1948 men’s bronzes, both in St. Moritz in the Waidacher’s home canton, Grisons. Naturally, Monika and Isabel would have loved to suit up for coach Rene Kammerer in Sochi too, but their sisterly affection overrode any feelings of envy.
“For Isabel and me it was a tough time, but we were so proud of Nina and so happy for her,” Monika said. “We always talked to her and watched her play. She deserved all of it.”
And the family celebration afterwards made it even better.
“I went up to my hometown of Arosa and they organized a little celebration at the ice rink,” Nina recalled. “My dad gave a little speech and gave me a present that will always remind me of the amazing moment in Sochi. After that, I went out for dinner with my whole family.”
The Waidacher sisters didn’t develop their hockey talent in isolation. Their grandfather and father Ludwig were former players for nine-time Swiss champion EHC Arosa, and their father now serves as the club’s president. The sisters are also an inspiration for their younger brothers, 20-year-old centre Thomas and 18-year-old defenceman Markus, both of whom have played for Arosa’s junior teams and other clubs. It’s a big family with three sisters and five brothers altogether.
“Our father has had a big impact on our success,” said Nina. “He drove us all around in Switzerland when we were young, no matter how late the practice or the game was. He also helped us to get better in every situation and always believed in us. This all wasn’t easy for him with so many other siblings who play hockey as well.”
With such a sports-themed upbringing, it’s not surprising how Isabel describes what makes their eastern Switzerland hometown a magical place: “Arosa is a winter wonderland. It is a beautiful ski resort, and it is also really nice for hiking, ice skating or cross-country skiing.”
With a little luck, this won’t be the last time we see this amazing family playing together at the Women’s Worlds. And by winning on home ice in Arosa against the Czech Republic, Denmark and Norway they could get a chance to repeat history at the Olympics.