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Nef reigns in Sweden

Nef won the overall giant slalom title by almost 300 points

(Keystone)

Sonja Nef completed a dream weekend for Switzerland's women skiers on Sunday after winning her second race of the season's final weekend. There were recriminations among the men's team, though, as slalom coach Patrice Morisod tendered his resignation.

Already assured of the overall World Cup giant slalom title, Nef won the final race in her specialist discipline, finishing Sunday's event in the Swedish resort of Are more than a second and a half ahead of home favourites Anja Paerson and Ylva Nowen.

On Saturday Nef enjoyed a more unexpected success in the women's slalom race, securing only her second career win in the discipline.

Although Switzerland's men have performed better than the women throughout the season (finishing second to Austria in the national standings while the women finished third) there was no doubt which sex was the stronger in this final weekend.

As well as Nef's brace of victories, Corinne Rey-Bellet grabbed a late first win of the season, after seeing off all opposition in Friday's women's super-G. Twenty-four hours earlier, Sylviane Berthod achieved her best ever result in a downhill race, getting herself on the podium with a third-place finish.

There were to be no podium places in Are for Switzerland's men, though. The greatest disappointment of them all came in Saturday's giant slalom when Michael von Grünigen made a rare error near the end of his second run to surrender the overall giant slalom title to Austria's Hermann Maier.

Sunday's slalom race also saw a poor finish to what has been a poor season for Switzerland in the most technical of the disciplines.

Urs Imboden was the best placed Swiss skier on Sunday, after finishing in 11th place, while Von Grünigen ended the season highest in the overall slalom standings with a ranking of 17th. The disappointing results were capped by the announcement of slalom coach Patrice Morisod that he would be resigning his position.

The 32-year-old coach from canton Valais claimed he had not received sufficient support throughout the season from the men's head trainer, Dieter Bartsch. Morisod's departure leaves the national squad without any representatives from French-speaking Switzerland.

Despite the disappointments in some of the individual disciplines, the winter's skiing as a whole has seen marked improvements by the Swiss team.

The combined points tally of the men and the women left Switzerland second in the national standings, far behind the dominant Austrians but also more than a thousand points clear of third-placed France.

swissinfo with agencies


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