February 14, 2014 / 9:52 AM / 6 years ago

Olympics-Alpine skiing-Argentine skiers keep it in the family

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Argentine skiing’s Simari Birkners - mother, father, three sisters, a brother and a cousin - are aiming for a family get together on the Olympic slopes of South Korea in 2018 after national officials put a dampener on their Sochi party.

Maria Belen Simari Birkner, sister of Macarena, Angelica and Cristian Javier, is not at the Winter Games after failing to be selected for the Argentina Alpine squad to compete in the slaloms and super-G.

Her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was rejected on Thursday on grounds that it was outside their jurisdiction, although they added it would have failed on its merits anyway.

She had claimed discrimination by the Argentine Olympic Committee on the basis of her family affiliation.

“We already knew it was almost impossible to win this case,” Cristian Javier told Reuters after completing the downhill leg of the men’s super-combined with the 43rd fastest time of 46 finishers on Friday.

“It’s always really hard for the athletes to be right. It’s all made so the federations and the Olympic Committees have always the biggest word on this, which is not really nice.

“She didn’t come (to Sochi) because we knew it was a 90 percent chance of not winning this (appeal). The easiest way is to stay at home and cross your arms and say ‘OK, this time they do what they want, let’s try next time’.”

The Simari Birkner family come from the Argentine Andean resort of San Carlos de Bariloche and three of the siblings are Olympic veterans.

Macarena, 29, and Cristian Javier, 33, have been at the last three Games while Maria Belen, 31, skied at the 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Angelica, 19, is not competing in Sochi but is one for the future.

Father Mario Simari and mother Teresita Birkner are the team coaches while cousin Jorge Birkner Ketelhohn was also competing in the men’s super-combined on Friday. He finished 46th in downhill.

“We’re going to keep strong and keep trying, being the best in Argentina. We keep doing it, not because of the money or any other thing but just because we love skiing,” said Cristian Javier, the Argentine flagbearer at the opening ceremony.

“We are going to keep pushing and trying to change the sport a little bit in Argentina.

“We are missing Belen and Angelica, but they are going to be for sure in Korea and we are going to keep training hard.”

The next Games are in Pyeongchang in 2018. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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