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Paralysed star to be flown home

Team doctor Thierry Maitre and Swiss Ski director Jean-Daniel Mudry attend to Beltrametti Keystone

Young Swiss skiing star Silvano Beltrametti is due to be flown back to Switzerland on Monday, two days after an horrific accident left him paralysed for life.

This content was published on December 9, 2001 - 19:46

In a statement released on Sunday, the Swiss skiing association said Beltrametti would be transferred to a specialist clinic in canton Lucerne so long as his condition remained stable.

The planned move follows a request by Beltrametti's family who have been with the young skier in Grenoble's university hospital since his tragic accident.

Sporting world stunned

Saturday's crash, in which Beltrametti flew straight through a safety net and onto a pile of nearby rocks, has stunned the sporting world.

Fritz Züger, the Swiss ski team's speed coach, said the tragic event was the "darkest day of [his] career".

"Silvano Beltrametti is like my own son," he added, "and it is really difficult for me to know that he was so seriously wounded."

Paralysed from chest down

Swiss team doctor Thierry Maitre, who has been in frequent talks with the skier's family, confirmed on Sunday that the accident had left Beltrametti paralysed from the chest down.

Dieter Bartsch, head of the Swiss alpine men's team, said he knew "immediately" that Beltrametti would not be getting up to walk away from the site of his crash.

"Less than two minutes after I arrived at Silvano's side, I knew it was serious," he said.

But Bartsch also recognised his task as a coach was to rally around the other members of the Swiss ski team.

"No justice"

"It is up to us coaches now to be very strong and to help the rest of the team to overcome this test," he said. "We all know that there is no justice in this sport."

Hans Pum, head of the Austrian ski team, said the shock of the accident was being felt not just by the Swiss but by the entire Alpine skiing community.

"This is a terrible moment, " he said, "not only for Beltrametti and the Swiss ski team but also for everyone involved in international skiing."

Media tributes

The German-language paper, "SonntagsZeitung", summed up the mood in its editorial on the crash entitled "The end of a dream".

"World Champion and Olympic medallist: Beltrametti had the talent and the will to achieve all of this," the paper said.

"Aged only 22, he had already emerged as a leader," the paper continued.

The French-language paper, "dimanche.ch", focused on Beltrametti's long-held ambition to win a medal at next year's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"Three times junior world champion, Silvano Beltrametti had a genuine talent," the paper commented.

"In the hearts of his fans, his accident will leave a pain which will never fade."

swissinfo with agencies

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