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Silver surprise for Swiss in St Moritz

Zurbriggen came from behind to snatch silver in the men's slalom event RTS

Switzerland's Silvan Zurbriggen has won the silver medal in the men's slalom on the last day of the Alpine world ski championships in St Moritz.

This content was published on February 16, 2003 - 14:53

Switzerland reached its target for the championships, garnering four medals in total.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took gold in Sunday's slalom, and Giorgio Rocca of Italy earned the bronze.

Zurbriggen thrilled the home crowd gathered at the Swiss resort. The fans clanged cows bells and blew horns to celebrate the fourth Swiss medal of the championships.

The young Zurbriggen had a start bib of 25, and managed to complete the first run in seventh place. He then charged from behind in the second run with the third-fastest time to finish 0.33 seconds behind Kostelic.

"It's incredible and I'm savouring my medal," 21-year-old Zurbriggen said after the race.

"I had a good run in the first heat, I skied well and I am more than happy."

Full of emotion

Kostelic covered the relatively flat Corviglia course in a time of one minute, 40.66 seconds.

"I am full of emotion," Kostelic said, wiping tears off his cheeks. "It's one of the greatest days in my life."

He followed in the footsteps of his sister, Janica, who won the women's race a day earlier.

They became the first brother and sister to win gold medals in the same event at a world championship.

"I had to take a lot of risks," Kostelic said after his win on Sunday. "I was on the edges a lot, I saw that Zurbriggen had had a super run. You had to fight on this course until the end."

"Before the race we had a chat and I told him [Zurbriggen] that he would win today. He said it would be difficult to beat me. I told him that if I win, he'd be second and that's what happened," Kostelic said.

Bode Miller from the United States failed to win his third gold of the championships, and had to settle with sixth spot.

No gold

Altogether Switzerland won four medals during the two-week event, but no gold.

Corinne Rey-Bellet earned silver in the women's downhill while Bruno Kernen won bronze in the men's event. Marlies Oester came third in the women's combined race.

While the overall result was a long way from the Swiss team's glory days of the late Eighties, it was an improvement over more recent competitions. Switzerland's skiers scored more medals than at the last world's in the Austrian resort of St Ankton two years ago.

But the two Swiss who left Austria as world champions - Michael von Grünigen and Sonja Nef - failed to hold on to their titles this time round.

Two members of the men's team, Didier Cuche and Ambrosi Hoffmann also walked away empty-handed, after finishing fourth and just inches from the podium in the downhill and the super-giant slalom.

Austria was the big winner at St Moritz - its champions will take home nine medals altogether. The United States managed to earn six medals in total.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Switzerland garnered four medals during the two-week event.
Corinne Rey-Bellet earned silver in the women's downhill while Bruno Kernen won bronze in the men's event.
Marlies Oester came third in the women's combined event and Silvan Zurbriggen took the bronze medal in the men's slalom race.

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