Yesterday evening there were many astonished tourists in the town centre of Naama Bay, where the main avenue of the famous town on the Red Sea not far from Sharm El Sheikh, was turned into a ski-rolling track.
The street was covered with a special fitted carpet that gave skiers the opportunity of competing in the sprint race with the support of a large crowd of astonished spectators. Among them there were also the governor of Sharm and the Italian consul in Egypt, together with the excited mayor of Naama Bay.
Another surprise concerned the final ranking lists. Everybody thought that Christian â€œZorroâ€ Zorzi would win again, or at least that the Olympic champion Veerpalu would try to take his revenge. The star of Marco Cattaneo shone brightly in the sky of Naama instead. The Italian skier was able to defeat the Estonian champion in the quarterfinals and then competed against Zorzi.
It was not an easy race. Along the 180 metres track on the main avenue of Naama Bay, Zorzi first defeated Gianni Dallacosta, and then Luigi Varrone and Roberto De Zolt.
The Italian skier Fabio Santus (cross country national team A) was defeated by De Zolt while Andrus Veerpalu, who did his best by showing all his technical skills, defeated Marco Selle. Cattaneo first defeated Russian Chelnokov and then the Estonian champion who was supported by a large crowd of spectators, due to the fact that Sharm El Sheikh is one of the most favourite destinations of his fellow countrymen.
Quite exciting was the final for the third and fourth place with Veerpalu able to defeat De Zolt with great authority. It was then the turn of the finals with Cattaneo and â€œZorroâ€:
The race was not as exciting, though. Zorzi did not expect such a quick start of Cattaneo and was not able to reach him. Cattaneo won with the astonished spectators cheering and applauding.
Italian Magda Genuin, who after a series of races was able to defeat Arianna Follis, unexpectedly won the women race. Peyrot lost her race in the second round because of a fall on the carpet. At the end, the winner of the FIS Marathon Cup ranked third.
The Estonian team could celebrate the victory of one of his skiers, though. Andreas Veerpalu, thanks to his vigour and technical skills avenged his father and won the junior race defeating two Italian young skiers, i.e. Valentina and Gaia Vuerich, the daughters of the famous ski-man. The heat obviously played a relevant role in the sprint race of Naama Bay too, but the presence of such a large audience helped competitors to do their best. Two Egyptians skiers took part in the race but were almost immediately eliminated.
Tonight the Afrika Ski Race celebrates its final act with the â€œAmerican raceâ€, in the presence of the Italian Ambassador in Egypt, of the governor of Sinai and many others. There will probably be the Egyptian minister for sports too.
Ranking list September 4th 2003
Sprint Race Men:
1) Cattaneo Marco (ITA) ; 2) Zorzi Christian (ITA); 3) Veerpalu Andrus (EST); 4) De Zolt Roberto (ITA); 5) Santus Fabio (ITA).
Sprint Race Women:
1) Genuin Magda (ITA); 2) Follis Arianna (ITA); 3) Peyrot Lara (ITA).
Sprint Race Boys:
1) Veerpalu Andreas (EST); 2) Vuerich Valentina (ITA); 3) Vuerich Gaia (ITA).