Reigning Olympic champion Gian Simmen has guaranteed himself a place in the Swiss team for next February's Games in Salt Lake City after finishing sixth in the halfpipe competition at Laax.This content was published on December 8, 2001 - 17:56
As a current world champion, Simmen needed only to finish in the top 12 to earn his spot on the Olympic team.
Many of the country's top snowboarding stars have been critical of the Swiss qualifying process, which has its emphasis on the riders' current form rather than previous performances, and Simmen proved to be no exception on Saturday.
The 24-year-old from Arosa said he was just happy that the "Olympic qualifying theatre" was over, so that he could get back to his main priorities of photo-shoots and snowboarding.
The men's halfpipe event was won by another Swiss rider, Thierry Brunner, who has greatly enhanced his chances of taking one of the two remaining freestyle spots.
"If they don't pick me for the Olympics now, I'd be amazed," said a confident Brunner afterwards. "I had to put on a big show here to win what's probably one of the best competitions on the tour."
In the women's event, Fabienne Reuteler was also able to put frustrations about the qualifying process behind her, winning the competition to make sure of a place on the plane to Utah.
"I have now shown on many occasions my ability to win under enormous pressure," beamed the young star from canton Schwyz. "I went and obtained the one women's freestyle place and so I deserve to be the one representing Switzerland in Salt Lake City."
swissinfo with agencies
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