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Switzerland scoops first St Moritz medal

Bruno Kernen shows his bronze medal in St Moritz

Switzerland has won its first medal of the Alpine world ski championships in St Moritz.

The 1997 world champion, Bruno Kernen, took bronze in the men’s downhill at the Swiss resort on Saturday.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer silenced the Swiss fans with his storming descent of one minute 43.54 seconds to take gold in the event.

Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt came second with a time of 1:44.05 while Kernen was just 46 hundredths of a second behind.

The Swiss said it meant a lot to him to win a medal on home snow. “I am happy to win a medal in Switzerland,” Kernen said.

Switzerland’s Didier Cuche finished the Corviglia course fourth.

Surprise win

Walchhofer – who had never won a race before – upstaged his more illustrious team mates.

He beat the pre-race favourite, Stephan Erberharter, who finished fifth as well as the superstar skier, Hermann Maier, who had to content himself with eighth position.

However, Walchhofer said that the victory did not come as a total surprise to him.

“I had good results this season in the downhill,” he said after clinching gold. “It was a perfect course and I’m happy to be on the highest step of the podium after so many second-place finishes,” Walchhofer continued.

“Now I am looking forward to the celebrations.”

Switzerland’s Kernen commented that he knew Walchhofer was a force to be reckoned with. “While I was waiting in the finish area, I knew that Walchhofer would be my biggest opponent,” he said.

The Swiss noted that the atmosphere at the race was “sensational”. Around 38,000 people descended on St Moritz to watch the race.

swissinfo with agencies

Top results from the men’s downhill:
1. Michael Walchhofer, Austria.
2. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, Norway.
3. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland.
4. Didier Cuche, Switzerland.
5. Stephan Erberharter, Austria.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR