Swiss bring home winter sport medals

Sarah Meier (left) celebrates her silver medal Keystone

Swiss skater Sarah Meier was just pipped for the top spot at the Ladies' European Figure Skating Championships in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday.

This content was published on January 28, 2007 minutes

Meanwhile, there have been both gold and silver medals for Swiss this weekend at the bob and skeleton World Championships in the Swiss resort of St Moritz.

Meier, the Swiss national champion, was beaten by Carolina Kostner of Italy, who won her first European figure skating title.

She had started the free skate part of the competition in the lead, having won Friday's short programme.

But in the end Kostner, who was battling an ankle injury, nailed three triples to triumph with a score of 174.79, just ahead of Meier's 171.28. Kiira Korpi of Finland came third.

Meier's silver is the first medal at the European championships since Denise Biellmann in 1981.

The Swiss, who has had a breakout season after winning the Cup of Russia, skated a clean programme but couldn't hold on to her slim lead from Friday.

"The performance wasn't exactly as I imagined it would be," Meier said. "I wanted to do better. I know that I gave all that I had.

"At the end of the programme I was tired, but I fought and landed the triple toe loop," she added.

Meier hit five triples in her free skate to the Pride and Prejudice film soundtrack.

"It's not that the silver medal is bad - it's very good - I just need a little time to feel that way," Meier said. "Still, I'm very happy."

There had been high hopes for Meier, who hails from a skating family. Her mother and sister both skate in a synchronized team, and her mother is also a judge. Meier is coached by her aunt Eva Fehr. Her father, uncle and two cousins play ice hockey.

Meier's medal was the only one for Switzerland in the skating competition. The men's competition was without Stéphane Lambiel, the two-time world champion, who dropped out due to lack of motivation.

Bob and skeleton

The Swiss were also successful at the bob and skeleton World Championships.

On Sunday Ivo Rüegg won the silver in the two-man bob competition. The gold was taken by the German Andre Lange, who continued his dominance of men's bobsleigh. Bronze was won by Simone Bertazzo of Italy.

Rüegg lost his brakeman, Alexandr Streltsov, for the final run after Streltsov pulled a hamstring. He was replaced by Tommy Herzog, which left the top Swiss sled five kilos light of the maximum total weight allowed.

Despite the change Rüegg managed a track record 1:06.22 and kept his place on the podium with a total time of 4:26.81.

Saturday saw a win for Gregor Stähli in the skeleton, 13 years after he earned his first championship.

The twice-Olympic bronze medallist gained his victory over the Americans Eric Bernotas and Zach Lund with more than a second and a half time gap.

The 38-year-old veteran could not contain his joy after winning. "I never would have imagined winning with such a margin," he said. The Swiss retired from the sport after winning his first title in 1994, but returned in 1999.

His gold follows on from Swiss Olympic champion Maya Pedersen-Bieri's silver in the ladies' skeleton competition on Friday.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Sarah Meier
Born: April 5, 1984
Lives: Bülach, canton of Zurich
Trainer: Eva Fehr
Choreographer : Salomé Brunner Guadarrama
Music : Allegro con Spirito by J. Rodrigo (short programme), Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianell (free programme)
She is six times Swiss champion

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In brief

Bobsleigh teams include a brakeman and a pilot in the two-man event, while two pushers are added for the four-man bob.

The race begins from a standing start, with the crew pushing the sled for up to 50m before boarding. Race times are measured in hundredths of seconds, so any error can have a significant impact.

In skeleton competitors drive a one-person sled in a prone, headfirst position down an ice track. Top speeds attained in skeleton are approximately 130 km/h.

The sport takes its name from the stripped-down sled, which originally was a bare frame, like a skeleton.

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