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Swiss boarders get down to snow business

Switzerland's Thomas Franc in action during a half-pipe qualifying run Keystone

Swiss snowboarders are among the favourites at the Snowboard World Championships in Arosa, in eastern Switzerland, which began on Saturday.

This content was published on January 13, 2007 - 18:45

It is first time since 1996 that the competition, which is under the aegis of the International Ski Federation (FIS), has been held on home pistes.

The world's best athletes in their disciplines, whether they are "frontsiders" or "backsiders", and their fans are taking over the Swiss resort, and the snowboarding spirit is blowing through the Schanfigg valley at an altitude of 1,800 metres.

Better known for its spas and wellness centres or for its open-air opera festival, Arosa is welcoming a totally new type of entertainment and atmosphere.

"The snowboarding spirit and Arosa are going to go together brilliantly," said Hello Haas, top manager of the world championships. "The organisers have everything under control and everything has been done to ensure that the competitions are at a very high level."

Haas added that there would be enough snow for all the disciplines.

Swiss strength

The hope for the locals is of course to see Swiss athletes lighting up their home pistes. For some time now Swiss have been regulars on podiums, especially in the parallel disciplines.

What's more, Swiss snowboarders have been represented over the past two seasons equally well by men and by women.

That is without forgetting the medals won at the Winter Olympics in Turin last February: brothers Philipp and Simon Schoch (gold and silver in the men's parallel giant slalom), Daniela Meuli (gold in the women's parallel giant slalom) and Tanja Frieden (gold in the women's snowboard cross).

In Arosa, the Schochs, Frieden and Mellie Francon are expected to generate some sparks.

Fränzi Kohli is the sole female representative for Switzerland in the parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom after the retirements of Meuli and former world champion Ursula Bruhin.

The half-pipe remains the Swiss Achilles heel, but there is a ray of hope in Manuela Pesko.

Targets

"Obviously we want to pick up a few medals," said Franco Giovanoli, head of Swiss snowboarding. "Three or four would make us happy, and of course we wouldn't say no to a world title."

In the previous world championships at the Canadian resort of Whistler in 2005, Switzerland won three medals: gold for Meuli in the parallel slalom and silver for Manuela Pesko in the half-pipe and Urs Eiselin in the parallel giant slalom.

"On paper, the men's parallel slalom team has the best chances of getting a medal," said Giovanoli. "In boarder cross anything can happen."

It will not have escaped the Swiss boarders' notice that five world champions from 2005 will also be fighting for the medals in Arosa: Seth Wescott and Lindsay Jacobellis (snowboard cross) from the United States, Manuela Riegler (parallel giant slalom) from Austria, the Canadian Jasey-Jay Anderson (parallel slalom), and the Finn Antti Autti (big air and half-pipe).

swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux

In brief

The FIS Snowboard World Championships will be held on January 13-20 in Arosa.

47 teams with 800 athletes from around the world are invited to Arosa to compete in five disciplines: snowboard cross, parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom, big-air and halfpipe.

This is the first time that the Snowboard World Championships have been held in Switzerland.

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Swiss team in Arosa

Parallel giant slalom
Men: Simon Schoch; Philipp Schoch; Marc Iselin; Heinz Inniger
Women: Fränzi Kohli; Patrizia Kummer

Parallel slalom
Men: Simon Schoch; Philipp Schoch; Marc Iselin; Roland Haldi
Women: Fränzi Kohli; Patricia Kummer

Snowboard cross
Men: Marco Huser; Stephan Werlen; Guillaume Nantermod; Reto Jenni
Women: Mellie Francon; Tanja Frieden; Sandra Frei; Corinne Mottu

Half-pipe
Men: Christian Haller; Rolf Feldmann; Markus Keller; Sergio Berger
Women: Manuela Pesko; Andrea Schuler; Sina Candrian; Ursina Haller

Big Air
Men: Thomas Franc; Benedikt Nadig; Stephan Maurer; Christian Haller
Women: Manuela Pesko

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