Swedes claim team bronze at ski worlds

Sweden claimed the team bronze at the world ski championships in Germany on Wednesday, behind France and Austria.

Swedes claim team bronze at ski worlds
Anja Päerson, Maria Pietilä Holmner, Hans Olsson & Matts Olsson & Sara Hector

France won team gold by virtue of the fastest overall time from their four

racers after finishing 2-2 against Austria, while Sweden took the bronze after

they demolished Italy 4-0 in the third-place play-off.

With each team sending two men and two women down the giant slalom course,

head-to-head against a member of the opposite team in a parallel race, the knock-out event was fast-paced and fun to watch.

In the final, victories by Cyprien Richard and Anemone Marmottan gave the French victory, as their four racers were faster overall than their rivals.

This is France’s first gold medal at a world championships since Regine Cavagnoud won the super-G in 2003 at St Anton, Austria.

Austria, who won the team event the last time it was held in 2007, booked their place in the final as they steamrolled Italy 4-0 in the semi-final.

As well as losing the gold, Austria also lost experienced giant slalom-specialist Benjamin Raich who picked up a knee injury in the quarter-final win over Croatia.

The 32-year-old was taken to hospital in Innsbruck and is doubtful for Friday’s giant slalom, the event in which he won world silver two years ago in Val d’Isère.

France had a tough route to the gold-silver race as they had to hold off a stiff challenge from Sweden, led by Anja Pärson, which ended 2-2.

The French went through, because of their faster time.

In the bronze medal race, Sweden blew away Italy 4-0 with Pärson, Matts Olsson, Maria Pietilä Holmner and Hans Olsson all winning their races.

The fortnight-long championships continue on Thursday with the women’s giant slalom and finishes Sunday with the men’s slalom.

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Austria avalanche kills three

An avalanche in the Salzburg region killed three people and injured two while they were skiing off-piste, Austria's Red Cross said Saturday.

Snow and avalanche protection fences seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria
Some mountains in Austria have snow and avalanche protection fences, like these seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria. ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

The accident happened Saturday about 2,400 metres (7,800 feet) up in the Lungau district, soon after 1:45 pm local time, Red Cross spokesman Anton Schilcher told the APA agency.

The snow buried eight of the group up to 4.5 metres deep, local emergency response official Christoph Wiedl told local media.

Two of the victims were already dead when their bodies were recovered, while the third died after being airlifted to hospital in Klagenfurt.

The two injured skiers were taken to hospital in the town of Tamsweg.

The skiers caught in the avalanche were from a group from the regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria.

In recent years, an average of around 20 people a year have been killed annually by avalanches in Austria.

The last two seasons were less deadly as the coronavirus pandemic reduced the number of skiers overall.

Avalanches killed four people in western Austria’s Tyrol region last February.