Cuche wins World Cup super-G

Didier Cuche of Switzerland won the men's alpine skiing World cCp super-G race on homer snow at Crans-Montana on Friday ahead of Jan Hudec of Canada and Benjamin Raich of Austria.

Cuche wins World Cup super-G
Christian Jansky (File)

It was his fourth World Cup win this season and comes less than a month before he is due to retire. At 37, he is currently the oldest winner on the circuit.

The 2009 world champion in the discipline beat Hudec by 00.16 secs and Raich by 00.21 secs on a rapidly-deteriorating, sun-drenched piste to win his 21st World Cup victory.

In doing so, Cuche climbed to second spot in the overall World Cup super-G rankings, behind the Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who was eighth on Friday.

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, one of the three great pretenders for the trophy, had a bad start to his weekened and only took 10 points, which was not enough to knock Austria’s Marcel Hirscher from top spot in the general classification.

The race began disastrously with three of the first eight skiiers falling at the start: Switzerland’s Patrick Küng and Sandro Viletta, as well as Andreas Romar from Finland.

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Switzerland heavily criticised for welcoming foreign skiers

Italy has hit out at Switzerland for failing to prevent foreign skiers from hitting the slopes. Some have gone so far as to blame Switzerland for the spread of virus mutations across Europe.

Switzerland heavily criticised for welcoming foreign skiers
The mighty Matterhorn lies on the border with Italy. Photo by AFP
Italy's government last week blocked ski resorts from reopening, the day before skiing was due to be allowed for the first time this winter season due to coronavirus restrictions.
There is also a ban on non-essential travel until February 25th.

“It's a disaster. For a week now, we have been readying the slopes for the opening and preparing the health protocol,” said Denis Trabucchi, an Italian ski instructor. 

But the ban has not stopped Italian snow enthusiasts from hitting the slopes on the Swiss side of the border, as Switzerland has kept its ski infrastructure open despite the pandemic.

Many Swiss and Italian pistes lie close to each other so it is an easy commute from one resort to another.

The mayors of Italian border towns are annoyed that local skiers are ‘emigrating’ to Swiss ski slopes, according to the Provincio di Como newspaper.

“Cross-border skiers are not as numerous as cross-border workers, of course, but ski traffic has increased,” said Massimiliano Tam, mayor of Villa di Chiavenna, a town in Lombardy.

He said that despite bans on such border hopping, many Italians rent apartments on the Swiss side of the frontier so they can ski.

Roberto Galli, the mayor of Livigno, a ski resort in the Italian Alps, is also livid at the “cross-border ski mobility”.

“Customs controls are really limited” he said, calling for more rigorous checks “especially for Italian cars with ski racks and snow on the roof”.

Italian authorities even went as far as blaming Switzerland for the spread of the pandemic across Europe. 

Walter Ricciardi, the head of the Italian government's coronavirus task force, said Switzerland's decision to keep ski slopes open throughout winter, while neighbouring countries shut down theirs, allowed the British strain of coronavirus to arrive on the continent.

READ MORE: Is Switzerland to blame for Europe’s third wave of coronavirus?

A similar situation occurred in December, when French skiers tried to sneak into Switzerland to ski.

France’s authorities quickly announced that French residents heading abroad to ski would have to self-isolate for seven days on return and that border checks would be stepped up in certain areas. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are the Covid-19 rules for skiing in Switzerland this winter?