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France opens medal account with team gold

ST MORITZ, Switzerland (Reuters) - Mathieu Faivre anchored France to nations’ team gold on Tuesday and their first medal of the 2017 Alpine skiing world championships.

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Outsiders Slovakia took a surprise silver, losing the final against France by eight hundredths of a second on a tie-break after Faivre won the last race to level the scores at 2-2.

The medal was Slovakia’s first in the event at an Alpine world championships.

Sweden, who had beaten 2015 champions Austria in the quarter-finals, saw off hosts Switzerland 3-1 for the bronze medal.

The mixed team event, contested in the world championships since 2011 in its current parallel slalom format with two racers on the piste together, will make its Olympic debut at next year’s PyeongChang Winter Games in South Korea.

“We didn’t expect it but we were ready to fight really hard to the end,” said France’s Tessa Worley, who joined Faivre, Alexis Pinturault and Adeline Baud Mugnier in racing the final with Julien Lizeroux and Nastasia Noens also in the team.

“We knew we could do it but it was a long shot. It was really tight, even in the semi-finals with the Swedes.”

Austria provided one of the bigger shocks of a sunny afternoon, with five times World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher beaten by both Belgian Dries van der Broecke at the last 16 stage and Sweden’s Andre Myhrer.

Slovakia -- with a final four of Petra Vlhova, Andreas Zampa, Veronika Velez Zuzulova and Matej Falat -- swept past Germany and Italy before also beating Switzerland.

“I feel like we won gold today,” said Velez Zuzulova. “We have never won a medal and I personally have never won a world championship medal so I’m really happy with how we as a team did today.”

Wednesday is a rest day at the championships before the technical disciplines over the final four days.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ossian Shine