VILLARS (Switzerland), Jan 14 -- Spaniard Maria Costa Diez triumphed the women's ski mountaineering sprint here on Monday at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, while Italian Rocco Baldini won the men's event, reported Xinhua news agency.
Ranking 9th in the seeding race and finishing the quarterfinals in three minutes and 29.20 seconds, Costa Diez didn't show early advantage but clocked 3:22.45 in the final to win, while the hottest title contender Caroline Ulrich suffered an unexpected fall right after the final started.
Ulrich, winner in Friday's individual event, posted the best result of 3:17.99 in the quarterfinals of Monday's sprint, before the Swiss stumbled to miss her chance of winning a title.
Italian Silvia Berra took the silver with a time of 3:24.98, Margot Ravinel of France finished third on 3:25.85, while China's Suolangquzhen was the fourth after being overtaken by Ravinel at the last descend.
"(Ulrich's) Her mistake is rare to see," said the Chinese girl from Tibet. "I would choose a more safe start, rather than in a rush."
Suolangquzhen herself was praised by a senior official from the country's governing body of the sport. "It's a little pity but also an amazing result for her to grab the 4th place," said Wang Yongfeng, vice president of the Chinese Mountaineering Association. "Our athletes could not merely finish the race two years ago!"
On men's part, Rocco Baldini of Italy lifted the trophy on 2:30.14, 7.87 seconds faster than his compatriot and the second-placed Luca Tomasoni.
"I'm happy, happy, happy! This is a beautiful sport," said the men's champion.
The Italian also expressed his wish of bringing this sport into the programs of the 2026 Winter Olympics, which will be held in his country.