Swedes Take Five Medals

Schönried/Gstaad (SUI). With the season’s fifth Halfpipe event the second half of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup commenced today at stage nine in Grächen, Switzerland. Fredrik Sterner and Anna Hellman made it a Swedish double win.

The day at Grächen had started with a moment of silence when riders and officials alike wanted to express their mourning for Swiss rider Daniel Lötscher who had died after a tragic accident in a Snowboard race at Leysin on Friday. Everybody involved with the Snowboard FIS World Cup in Grächen were in shock after hearing about this tragic accident in Leysin. The Halfpipe event in Grächen has been dedicated in memory of Daniel Lötscher.

After pure sunshine almost all morning during the qualifications fog, came up and it looked like the Halfpipe finals would risk terrible delays but it cleared up again in time and except for some light snow falls towards the end it stayed all right. The Swedes made today’s competition their thing with taking the gold, silver and bronze in the mens’ event. 1998 Halfpipe World Cup champion Fredrik Sterner, who had not captured a win for more than one year, looked pretty safe today and was leading already after the first final run. Ending up first in the second run also he got his first podium of the season under his belt. “I’m so happy and first couldn’t believe it myself. I really don’t know why it went that fine today, I’ve been riding this good for the last couple of competitions, no idea why it happened today. I have tried a new board that I wanted to ride but it didn’t seem to be the right one so I switched back to the old which I’ve been using for two or three years… maybe that’s the reason why.” Sterner’s cousin Magnus Sterner finished second while Thomas Johansson went in third.Johansson is further leading the Halfpipe World Cup standings ahead of Fredrik Sterner and NOKIA team rider Aleksi Litovaara from Finland who finished tenth today.

Anna Hellman and Anna Olofsson added another two medals to the Swedes’ triumph by taking first and second place in the womens’ competition. “I was kind of hoping for first place today,” said Hellman, who added the second win to her score this season, “but I wasn’t sure about it. The pipe was really good, it has been a little icy on the first training day but then it just got better and better. I gave everything right from the beginning and for the first time ever I did a Frontside 540 in a contest and that might have helped to capture the win.” NOKIA team rider Sabine Wehr-Hasler from Germany was the only one who could hinder the Swedes from taking all six medals. She had crashed in the first final run and finished third after a good one in the second final. “I needed to get a safe run down in the second,” she said, “and therefore I couldn’t really attack since I didn’t want to risk a podium spot. Third place is fine and if anyone had told me at the beginning of the season that it would work that way this year, I would not have believed it.”

The World Cup travels on to Tandadalen, Sweden, now, where the next races are scheduled for 26 through 29 January, featuring Parallel Giant Slalom, Parallel Slalom and two Halfpipe events.Hellman took the lead in the Halfpipe World Cup ranking today while Wehr-Hasler dropped back to second, ahead of Olofsson.