February 22, 2006

Schoch beats brother to gold

By Mark Meadows

BARDONECCHIA, Italy (Reuters) - Philipp Schoch became the
first snowboarder to retain an Olympic title when he edged out
older brother Simon in the final of the men's parallel giant
slalom on Wednesday.

Philipp, 26, gained a useful advantage over World Cup
leader Simon, 27, in the first run of the final on the easier
blue course and hung on in the second run when they switched
sides to claim Switzerland's third gold of the Turin Games.

Simon's silver gave Switzerland 10 medals overall so far
and followed Tanja Frieden's gold in the women's snowboard
cross last week.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to defend a title," Phillip
said. "I'm just enjoying this moment extremely. It is just pure
joy. I was very calm at the start of the day and from race to
race the feeling just got better."

Brother Simon said: "It's crazy. I was just hoping we both
got into the final. The better man wins and today that was
certainly him."

Austria's Siegfried Grabner took bronze in the third/fourth
place play-off after France's Mathieu Bozzetto tumbled in their
first run.

The chance of a Swiss medal sweep ended when Heinz Inniger
and Gilles Jaquet both clipped gates and fell in the

Philipp Schoch, a surprise winner in Salt Lake City four
years ago, had some tricky moments in his quarter-final with
Slovenia's Rok Flander and semi-final with Grabner, almost
slipping when coasting but he steadied himself to go through.


"It might have been expected for them to do well but to
take gold and silver at the Olympics really is unbelievable,"
the Schoch's father Walter told Reuters.

"I would probably have liked Simon to win because Philipp
already has a gold medal."

The Schochs outpaced the rest of the field in qualifying
with Simon just beating Philipp when the pair also raced
against each other in the early stages, meaning they could only
meet again in the final if both qualified.

They are not the first siblings to win gold and silver at a
Winter Olympics. Christine and Marielle Goitschel of France
were one and two in the alpine skiing slalom in Innsbruck in
1964 while U.S. twins Phil and Steve Mahre did the same in

Riders were generally faster through the blue gates than
the red, even though the parallel courses are meant to be as
identical as possible. Competitors were able to race both
courses, however, to determine each race winner.

Snowboard cross silver medallist Radoslav Zidek of Slovakia
failed to be among the 16 to progress to the finals from the
qualifying round while Canadian hope Jasey Jay Anderson also
missed out early on.

(Additional reporting by Mark Ledsom)