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Giant disappointment

Didier Cuche is leaving Salt Lake empty-handed Keystone

While Switzerland celebrated rare success in the Olympic cross-country, there was renewed frustration for country's alpine skiers.

This content was published on February 21, 2002 - 23:14

Tipped for a possible three medals ahead of the Salt Lake City Games, Neuchatel's Didier Cuche was left empty-handed once again on Thursday after managing only a tenth place finish in the men's giant slalom.

Two mistakes during a flat section on his first run saw the Swiss star lose valuable time.

"On a simple piste like this one, you can't make up for those sort of errors," said a disappointed Cuche afterwards.

"Now my missed opportunity in the super-G is even more painful," Cuche added.

Von Grünigen 11th

Switzerland's reigning giant slalom world champion Michael von Grünigen came in 11th to cap off a miserable, injury-ridden season.

"Of course I wanted a medal and I'm disappointed," said the 32-year-old skier, "but considering how the season's gone I really couldn't expect too much."

Young Swiss team-members Didier Defago and Tobias Grünenfelder were unable to better their seniors with Defago finishing in 14th place and Grünenfelder crashing out in the second run.

Eberharter takes gold

Austrian star Stephan Eberharter grabbed the giant slalom gold in emphatic fashion, finishing more than eight tenths of a second ahead of American silver medallist Bode Miller. Norway's Lasse Kjus took the bronze, coming in just over a second behind Eberharter.

Thursday's triumph brought Eberharter his third medal of the Salt Lake Games and his first ever Olympic gold. The runaway leader in this season's overall World Cup rankings had previously taken silver in the super-G and bronze in the downhill.

The latest results leave the Swiss alpine ski team still chasing their first Salt Lake medal. With little expected from the men in Saturday's slalom race, all hope now seems to rest on Sonja Nef and Marlies Oester in the women's giant slalom on Friday.

Disappointment in free skate

Switzerland took a back seat in the ladies free skating on Friday with Sarah Meier finishing in 13th place. After a promising short programme, Meier had a tough run in the free skate, falling once and visibly lacking confidence on several of her landings.

American teenager Sarah Hughes skated to gold, with Russia's Irina Slutskaya winning silver ahead of the favorite Michelle Kwan from the United States.

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