Berliner Boersenzeitung - Swiss coach blasts judges in Olympic 'kick' controversy

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Swiss coach blasts judges in Olympic 'kick' controversy
Swiss coach blasts judges in Olympic 'kick' controversy

Swiss coach blasts judges in Olympic 'kick' controversy

Switzerland's ski cross head coach criticised Beijing Olympics judges after athlete Fanny Smith lost out on a bronze medal when she was penalised for kicking a rival in Thursday's women's final.

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Smith was yellow carded in the gold-medal race for making what judges deemed to be intentional contact with Germany's Daniela Maier as they raced towards the finish.

The pair collided and Smith crossed the line in third ahead of Maier, but after a lengthy wait the Swiss was eventually classified as "ranked as last in their heat" -- the equivalent of disqualification.

Swiss head coach Ralph Pfaeffli said the 29-year-old Smith was too distraught to speak to reporters after the race, but he said he believed the contact was "clearly incidental and not intentional".

"They say she kicks sideways to slow down Daniela Maier but no ski cross competitors would ever try to side-kick while riding on rollers or over jumps into another person," said Pfaeffli.

"That's a complete misunderstanding."

The race was won by Sweden's Sandra Naeslund with Canada's Marielle Thompson taking the silver and Maier bronze.

Pfaeffli said the Swiss team were considering appealing but believed "the result will never change".

Maier said she would need to watch a replay before she could judge whether it was a fair result, but she had nothing but sympathy for Smith.

"I'm really sorry for Fanny because it's always a weird feeling," she said.

"What really happened, I don't know. I just saw that Fanny had more speed than Marielle and she had to decide where to go -- then I am losing my balance."

The athletes were made to wait over five minutes after the race before the result was made official.

Naeslund said she "didn't really understand" what the judges were looking at.

"Sometimes it takes time but not this long, I guess, but it's also an Olympic final so for sure they want to do it right," she said.

"Sometimes there is those accidents where you can't really do much.

"It's close skiing and it's kind of hard to tell and hard to say who did right and wrong."

(T.Renner--BBZ)