By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 15 - Didier Defago (pictured) today became the first Swiss to win a men's Olympic Alpine title since 1988 as he claimed gold in the men's downhill here.

Defago shocked his more fancied team-mates to emerge victorious in the blue riband event with Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal taking the silver medal and American Bode Miller picking up bronze.

Defago's triumph was Switzerland's first in a men's Olympic Alpine event since Pirmin Zurbriggen in 1988 which came at another Canadian venue, Calgary.

The 32-year-old, 18th out of the start gate, went down shortly after Svindal had edged ahead of Miller who led from the early stages.

The Swiss skier produced a smooth and precise run on the testing Dave Murray piste to record a time of 1m 54.31sec - seven-hundredths of a second quicker than Svindal.

Defago said: "It hasn't sunk in yet.

"You had to really fight on that piste, it was pretty bouncy.

"It was really a beautiful run.

"This morning I knew that the course would suit me well.

"I have been looking for a podium for a long time.

"I really wanted to go back home with a medal.

"After three Olympics and a lot of championships, I think my experience made the difference."

There was another gold for Switzerland in the men's cross-country skiing with Dario Cologna (pictured) winning the 15 kilometres freestyle event.

Cologna, 23, followed in the footsteps of Defago earlier in the day as produced a superb display to blow away his rivals.

The youngster stormed over the course in a time of 33min 36.3sec to finish 24.6 seconds ahead of Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer in second with Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic taking bronze.

It was Switzerland's first ever cross-country gold medal.

The victory left Switzerland top of the medals table with three gold.

They are ahead of the United States, who currently have a total of eight medals, two of them gold, and South Korea, who have three, two gold.

Cologna said: "This is the first cross-country gold for us and this is a great result, we are a winter sport nation and as I was starting the warm-up I saw the downhill and that motivated me.

"I hope there will be more medals for Switzerland in these Olympics."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]