Rueegg won the two-man event at the 2009 World Championships but did not fare as well in the four-man, where he finished sixth. Afterward he said that while everything worked perfectly in two-man, he never quite got the feel for the four-man sled in Lake Placid. Typically, he says, he feels equally comfortable driving two-man and four-man sleds. In 2007, Rueegg won the four-man world title at home in St. Moritz. In Lake Placid, he made a bet with his coaches that if he won two-man, they would have to walk back to town from the track. The 7-mile trek, largely uphill, took them about two hours. But they completed it on foot, turning down several rides offered by concerned passers by along the way.
Rueegg made his Olympic debut in 2006, finishing eighth in both the two-man and four-man events. He says he feels more prepared for Vancouver because of the experience he has gained since Torino, where he found it hard to concentrate and was distracted by everything going on around him. Rueegg says he was glad to be there in 2006, but now it's totally different and no longer new. He thinks that it will be much easier for him to focus in Vancouver. He calls the Whistler track "amazing," adding that he likes it very much and it suits his style - he has the feeling he will be strong at the Olympics.
Switzerland has won more Olympic bobsled medals than any other nation, and Martin Annen led the Swiss effort at the last two Games. The two-time World Cup champion won a bronze medal in Salt Lake and two more in Torino. Annen has since retired, and his longtime brakeman, Beat Hefti, has become a driver. Rueegg's two-man brakeman, Cedric Grand, was a longtime member of Annen's four-man sled. Vancouver will mark the fourth Games for the veteran push athlete.
Rueegg was a ski racer on the European Cup level but abandoned that career because of back problems. He was also a national-level decathlete in Switzerland. But bobsledding is in his blood. His uncles, Toni and Max, both competed on the sport's international circuit in the late 1970s and early 1980s as push athletes. Together they won two four-man medals at the world championships: silver in 1981 and bronze in 1982. Max also won gold in two-man in 1982 and silver in 1983. Ivo's younger brother, Reto, was a push athlete in his sled but retired about five years ago. His cousin, Ralph, was a driver on the World Cup circuit until 2006.
Most summers, Rueegg works with a construction company building houses. But in 2009, for the first time, he took the summer off in order to concentrate totally on bobsled. Rueegg also has used his skills to complete some renovations on his own home in Tuggen.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.