Swiss ski cross racer sounds off after controversial review denies her Beijing podium

Fanny Smith was left frustrated and confused after a lengthy review stripped her of her Beijing Games bronze medal. (Reuters)
Fanny Smith was left frustrated and confused after a lengthy review stripped her of her Beijing Games bronze medal. (Reuters)

The Beijing Games have been marred with confusing and unpopular decisions by judges, with the latest dispute leaving athletes and viewers equally bewildered.

Swiss skier Fanny Smith was controversially penalized in Thursday's the women’s ski cross final, denying her a bronze medal after a lengthy review following the race.

Smith, who earned bronze in the event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, was assessed a yellow card for making intentional contact with Germany’s Daniela Maier, according to the judges. Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund won the gold medal, while Canada’s Marielle Thompson took home the silver.

Maier and Smith collided after landing from a jump, with Smith momentarily losing her balance and making contact with the trailing Maier. The Swiss finished the race in third place, but a long review determined that the German athlete would be awarded the bronze instead.

Initial confusion quickly turned into frustration for the 29-year-old Smith, who could be seen questioning the decision to have her removed from the podium.

"Who's the f—ing judge?" Smith asked on camera, according to Eurosport.

"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 Swiss coach Ralph Pfaeffli in defence of his athlete. “That’s a complete misunderstanding.”

Despite benefiting from the judges’ controversial decision to capture her first-ever Olympic medal, Maier sympathized with 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."

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Naeslund, the winner of the race, was also confused by the review, which took over five minutes to complete.

"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," Naeslund said. "Sometimes there are 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."

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