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Swiss skiers take double honours

Martina Schild took victory in Lake Louise

(Keystone)

Daniel Albrecht and Martina Schild have put Switzerland back on the skiing map by winning two World Cup events in North America over the weekend.

Albrecht won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado on Sunday – his second victory in four days after the Super Combi race on Thursday.

After the opening leg in which he finished only 11th, Albrecht delivered a stunning second run on the Birds of Prey course to record a total time of two minutes, 24.30 seconds.

Schild battled biting cold and a slick track in Lake Louise, Alberta, to win the season-opening women's Super G for her first career World Cup victory in a time of one minute, 16.21 seconds.

Veteran Swiss Didier Cuche came third in the Beaver Creek event, taking over the men's overall standing from the injured reigning world champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. "It's a great day for Switzerland," Cuche said.

It marked the first double win for Swiss skiers in almost seven years.

The Swiss already have twice as many victories as in any of the past six seasons.

Breakthrough

Their results confirm their breakthrough last season, when Marc Berthod posted his maiden World Cup victory to end a three-year spell without a win for the Swiss.

Once an Alpine skiing superpower, Switzerland has fallen into a deep slump over the past decade as Austria took over as the dominant nation.

The last Swiss man to win the overall title was Paul Accola in 1992. The last Swiss women's champion was Vreni Schneider in 1995.

Repeated changes in the coaching staff, a focus on the nation's stars at the cost of the development teams and poor equipment choices had all lead to Switzerland's decline.

"It's a matter of all the World Cup group working well now," Cuche explained. "And having consistent coaches in the last three years is helping."

Strange

Albrecht sat in the finish area watching as ten other racers failed to match his time.

"It was strange for me in the finish because everyone that went after me was faster until the last interval," Albrecht said. "Each time I thought, 'OK, this guy's going to be faster.' But each of them lost time at the bottom and finished behind me."

Austrian Mario Matt finished second, just .05 second behind. Cuche, who led after the opening run, made a costly mistake in the final few gates and settled for third position.

A speed specialist, Cuche's only giant slalom victory came in January 2002. The 33-year-old was also third in Friday's downhill race.

Svindal, winner of the season-opening GS in October, remains in hospital after a downhill training crash last Tuesday left him with facial fractures and groin injuries. His season could be over, the team doctor said.

Schild was second in downhill at the Turin Olympics, but her best World Cup finish was a third in Super G last year.

"For the Super G I had a good feeling but was I going to win? No," she said. "It was a run to go and risk. I tried to do it and it was very good."

swissinfo with agencies

Men's giant slalom, Beaver Creek, Colorado

1. Daniel Albrecht, Switzerland, 2 minutes, 24.30 seconds
(1:14.11-1:10.19)
2. Mario Matt, Austria, 2:24.35 (1:14.07-1:10.28)
3. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:24.41 (1:13.06-1:11.35)
Further:
18. Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 2:25.43 (1:14.93-1:10.50)

World Cup Overall Standings after seven races (men)

1. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 235 points
2. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 234
3. Daniel Albrecht, Switzerland, 222
Further:
11. Didier Défago, Switzerland, 130.

end of infobox

Women's Super G, Lake Louise, Canada

1. Martina Schild, Switzerland, 1 minute, 16.21 seconds
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:16.41
3. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, Sweden, 1:16.63
Further:
5. Fränzi Aufdenblatten, Switzerland, 1:16.72.
10. Fabienne Suter, Switzerland, 1:17.29.
12. Nadia Styger, Switzerland, 1:17.35

end of infobox


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