Environmentalists, Angered by Tree Clearing, Stage Protest at Alpine Ski Championships

Associated Press

Some 15 environmentalists staged a protest Sunday against tree clearing for the Alpine World Ski Championships, drawing jeers, insults and snowballs from fans and race officials.

The demonstration, mainly by members of the Swiss section of the Greenpeace group, took place as fans were leaving the finish area after the last championship race, a men's slalom.

Angry local residents, shouting "Leave us alone" and "Get out of here," pulled down a banner carried by the protesters, who mostly appeared to be from the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Police watched the protest and confrontation but did not intervene.

The controversy between event organizers and environmentalists arose some two years ago and centered on the clearing of 12.3 acres of forest above this Valais resort to widen existing courses. After appeals by environmental groups, the Swiss Supreme Court ruled last March to give the final go-ahead.

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