Pascale Grossenbacher (SWI)
Tribute by Ioana Jadic

One of the most elegant gymnasts to compete at the 1996 Olympic Games, Pascale Grossenbacher was a regular presence on the Swiss team in the mid 90’s. Pascale spent the first part of her career in the shadow of Natasha Schnell, Switzerland’s best gymnast at the time. She won the national junior title in 1994, and went on to compete at the 1995 World Championships, gaining valuable experience for the Olympic year.

Switzerland had only one spot available for the 1996 Olympic games, and it became apparent early in the season that Schnell and Grossenbacher would be the ones contending for an Olympic berth. Pascale was the first one to stake a claim on the title, with a strong finish at the European Championships. Despite a fall on the uneven bars, her total of 35.8 pts was good enough for 18th place, the best all-around finish for a Swiss gymnast in the 90’s. 

The National Championships followed, where Pascale claimed the gold medal in the all-around in dramatic fashion, coming from behind with a 9.75 on beam and a strong effort on vault. Natascha Schnell, the leader after three rotations fell on floor, ironically her strongest event, to seal Grossenbacher’s victory. Pascale herself was surprised by her win, saying “After that optional routine on bars I thought everything was over.” 

The all-around victory did not guarantee an Olympic birth, however. The Swiss Olympic Committee required their gymnasts to score over 73.6 points, in other words average a 9.2 or better on all the events (compulsories and optionals combined) in an international meet. Pascale did just that in her next competition, a dual meet against Hungary, scoring 74.95 points (37.45 in the compulsories and 37.5 in optionals). She was nominated to the Olympic team soon after. 

After a stressful selection process, Pascale went to Atlanta ready to enjoy her Olympic experience. She competed very well, especially in the optionals, where her elegant routines and original skills - like her beam dismount of bh bh to double twist - stood out.

Following the Olympics, Pascale decided to compete one more year, since the world Championships were held in her home country, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The entire Swiss team competed well and placed 16th overall. Led by Pascale Grossenbacher and Natasha Schell, this was the best finish for a Swiss team since 1985. Both Grossenbacher (64th AA) and Schnell had one fall that kept them out of the all-around finals. Pascale was the best ranked Swiss gymnast on any event, with a 9.175 on bars. After 8 years as a national team member, she retired from competitive gymnastics.

She performed an exhibition during an international meet held in her home area in 1998, but she was done competing – in gymnastics. Pascale went on to become a member of Positive Vibe, a Zurich-based hip-hop dance company that won the 2002 European hip-hop Championships held in Rimini, Italy. In addition to her dance career, she was full-time university student, majoring in business management. She also helped choreograph some of the floor routines for current national team members, such as Joy Studer and Ariella Kaeslin. 

Today Pascale owns her own dance company, based in Bienne Switzerland.

. This page was created August 2002 and last updated August 2006.

 

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