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Swiss Olympian sets sights on Engadin

Loretan Albrecht is chasing her third Engadin title Keystone Archive

After winning an Olympic bronze with the Swiss women's cross-country relay team, Brigitte Albrecht Loretan will on Sunday be bidding for home glory in the legendary Engadine ski marathon.

This content was published on March 7, 2002 - 17:36

Renewed snowfall in the Engadine valley is allowing organisers to stage the massive event over the full 42-kilometre course. All that's now needed to make this year's race a major success is a homegrown winner.

In the women's category, Albrecht Loretan certainly seems to be the country's best hope. Having already won the race twice, in 1999 and 2001, the 31-year old is keen to defend her title this weekend.

"At the Engadin marathon, winning is everything," insisted the 14-time Swiss champion. "The attention you get after winning the Engadin ski marathon is enormous and your recognition level just shoots up."

Good start essential

The skier from canton Valais said that a good start would be essential as would avoiding any falls or broken poles.

"So far I've been lucky," she added.

Fellow Swiss relay team member Natascia Leonardi Cortesi will be among the other home favourites. Their biggest international rivals include last year's Engadin winner and current Marathon Cup leader Antonia Ordina of Sweden, as well as Norway's Elin Nilsen, a triple Olympic medallist and seven-time world championship silver medallist.

A Swiss victory in the men's category appears far less likely, with Sunday's field including Olympic sprint champion Tor Arne Hetland and Danish silver medallist Peter Schlickenrieder.

Italian Marathon Cup leader Maurizio Pozzi, Spain's Juan Jesus Gutierrez and Norway's Haavard Solbakken and Rune Torseth should also make it tough for the Swiss men to end their seven-year wait for Engadin glory.

While the professionals will no doubt share Loretan Albrecht's sentiment that winning is everything, plenty of amateur skiers in the 12,000-strong starting line-up will be happy just to play a part in the world's biggest cross-country marathon.

swissinfo with agencies

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