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Disappointment in the halfpipe

Simmen clutches his head after fall number two Keystone

Defending Olympic snowboarding champion Gian Simmen made an early exit from the Salt Lake City halfpipe competition.

This content was published on February 12, 2002 - 03:27

Along with Swiss team-mates Therry Brunner and Marcel Hitz, Simmen failed to make it beyond Monday's qualifying stage.

Simmen had appeared on course for a place in the finals during both of his qualifying runs, but both times the Nagano gold medallist made mistakes at the bottom of the half-pipe.

On each occasion the 24-year-old from Arosa fell while attempting a 900 degree frontside turn, a trick not considered particularly taxing.

"I had no difficulty at all with that jump in training," a disappointed Simmen told swissinfo afterwards. "Even when it didn't work out on the first run I was confident I could still land it in the second. It's frustrating after having everything work so well in training."

Annoyed

An extreme outsider when he struck gold in Nagano four years ago, Simmen came to Salt Lake City as one of this year's favourites. But he insisted on Monday that his errors weren't down to pressure.

"No, I don't think so," Simmen told swissinfo. "I was pretty confident that I could handle the pressure and wasn't nervous at all. But the portion of luck I had in Nagano wasn't there and it just didn't work out."

Brunner unlucky

Therry Brunner had more reason to feel aggrieved after narrowly failing to make Monday's final despite two strong qualifying runs. The 26-year-old from Davos was awarded seventh place by the judges in the decisive second run, with only six riders going through to the final.

"In skiing terms, it was like missing out on the final by two hundredths of a second," said Brunner, whose marks for height seemed to be have been particularly harsh.

Following Switzerland's impressive achievements in Nagano, Brunner denied that Monday's disappointment marked a major step backwards for the country's boarders.

"We put on a good show here and represented our country admirably," Brunner insisted. "With a tiny bit more luck, everything could have looked completely different. What happened today was just a blip."

Americans hog podium

As the Swiss riders looked to put a bad day behind them, their American hosts had plenty to celebrate.

All three podium places went to the US team with Ross Powers taking the gold medal ahead of compatriots Danny Kass and Jarret Thomas.

While the final standings provided a memorable finish for the home supporters, the American domination is likely to stir up more controversy about the shape of the Olympic half-pipe.

Many of the European snowboarders, including Swiss bronze medallist Fabienne Reuteler, have spoken of their difficulty this week in adapting to the half-pipe's shallower "American-style" curve.

No such arguments will be possible on Thursday when the world's top boarders step out onto the alpine course for the qualifying races in both the men's and women's parallel giant slalom.

swissinfo with agencies

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