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Gold for Von Grünigen

A jubilant Michael von Grünigen holds up his skis after winning the gold

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Michael von Grünigen has won the country's first gold medal at the skiing world championships in St Anton. Living up to his reputation as pre-race favourite, Von Grünigen grabbed the giant slalom title in a time of 2'23"08.

Von Grünigen, who had shared fourth place with Austria's Hermann Maier after the opening run, delivered a blistering second effort to overtake Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway, who took the silver in two minutes, 24.15.

"My second run was pretty good," Von Grünigen modestly pointed out to swissinfo at the finish line. "My first was certainly not super, but I'm just very happy that I could win here."

Thursday's gold medal is Von Grünigen's second at a world championships, following his win in the same event in Sestrières four years ago.

The 30-year-old from Schönried looks likely to complete an impressive double this year. He currently holds a commanding lead in the World Cup giant slalom standings, with Maier the only man still able to catch him.

On Thursday, though, the Swiss skier's thoughts were only on his latest triumph.

"It was a big goal for me to win the gold medal here," he grinned. "All I can say is that it's great."

Von Grünigen's gold restored some pride to Switzerland's world championship team, who began the day with just one medal - the bronze won by Paul Accola in Monday's combined event.

by Mark Ledsom


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