Husband of murdered skier is main suspect

Murdered skier Corinne Rey-Bellet with her mother, who was seriously injured in the shooting Keystone Archive

Police have issued an arrest warrant for the husband of Corinne Rey-Bellet, the former Swiss skiing champion who was shot dead at her family's home on Sunday.

This content was published on May 1, 2006 - 20:54

The 33-year-old skier had recently separated from her private banker husband, who is still on the run and whom police describe as "armed and dangerous".

Rey-Bellet and her brother were murdered on Sunday night and their mother was seriously injured. Her father and two-year-old son were uninjured and are currently in a secure location.

Rey-Bellet married her husband in 2002 and retired from top-level skiing in 2003. They had lived in canton St Gallen with their son.

After the split roughly ten days ago, Rey-Bellet moved back to her parents in the mountain resort of Les Crosets in canton Valais. On Sunday her husband dropped off their son and an argument ensued. After Rey-Bellet's father left the house, her husband opened fire.

Cantonal police said he fled the scene in his car – armed with a handgun according to witnesses.

Despite being shot five times, Rey-Bellet's mother was able to call emergency services.

Rey-Bellet's husband was then spotted in his car by a police patrol which gave chase.

However, he managed to shake them off in Monthey in canton Valais when speeds reached 235km/h – the police said there was too great a danger to third parties.

His car was then found on Monday morning in the neighbouring canton of Vaud but there was no trace of him. A spent pistol cartridge was found inside the car.

On Tuesday evening there was still no trace of the suspected murderer.

One of the best

Rey-Bellet was considered one of the world's best skiers when she retired three years ago.

She hung up her skis in 2003 due to injury but not before winning silver in the women's downhill at the world championships in St Moritz – the high point of her decade-long career.

In all she won five World Cup titles, memorably winning both the downhill and the super-G on the same day in St Anton, Austria, in 1999.

What was all the more remarkable about her historic double was that she hadn't made the podium since finishing third in the giant slalom at Crans Montana in 1992.

Until her second place at the 2003 world championships, Rey-Bellet had suffered a run of near misses at the world's biggest competitions.

She narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, finishing in fifth place in the downhill. "To come fifth is heart-breaking because it's so close," Rey-Bellet said at the time.

She also came close to a medal at the world championships in St Anton in 2001, twice ending up in fourth place.

Her three World Cup downhill victories came at Lenzerheide, Switzerland (2002), Altenmarkt, Austria (2000) and St Anton, Austria (1999). She also won two super-G titles: Are, Sweden (2001) and St Anton (1999). In all she managed 15 World Cup podium finishes.

Rey-Bellet, who was born in Les Crosets in August 1972, also won back-to-back Swiss downhill titles in 2001 and 2002.

Swiss Ski Federation spokesman Marc Wälti told swissinfo the news came as a big shock.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Corinne Rey-Bellet was born on August 2, 1972, in Les Crosets, canton Valais.

Her best result was a silver medal in the downhill at the world championships in St Moritz in 2003.

Between 1999 and 2003 she won five times on the World Cup circuit - three in downhill and two in super-G. She made it onto the podium on 15 occasions.

In 2002 she finished third in the overall World Cup downhill standings. A knee injury led to her retirement the following year.

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