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Schurter celebrates best season ever

Nino Schurter sat absolutely beaming at the press conference after winning his second-ever elite cross country mountain bike world championship title on Saturday afternoon in Saalfelden, Austria.

"It was my best season ever," he said.

In July, he wrapped up winning the overall World Cup at the final round in Val d'Isere, France. Then three weeks ago, he finished second at the Olympic Games to Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic). At first he seemed disappointed not to win Olympic gold, but time changed his perspective. "Looking back, I'm happy about the silver medal in London. It was a great race and Jaroslav was just stronger there."

For 2012, Schurter's focus was on the Olympic Games. He missed two World Cups to concentrate on the Olympics.

Earlier this season, he told Cyclingnews that Worlds was a bit of an afterthought although after winning the Worlds on Saturday, he also said he'd been looking forward to this day, too, for quite some time.

"I was quite tired after the Olympics. After the Olympics, I took one week to recover. I didn't know if I would compete at the Worlds. I was tired and didn't know what I wanted to do. Then I found the motivation again to train and to focus again on these Worlds."

Schurter previously won the elite world championship cross country in 2009 in Canberra, when he out sprinted Julien Absalon.

"Now I'll take a break and rest," he said. "It's awesome to wear the stripes. It feels nice to compete with the world champion's jersey. I don't know if I will race again this year, but it will be great to start next year in the World Cup with the rainbow jersey. I'm really proud."

When asked whether he would compete in the eliminator on Sunday, when the first-ever world championship for that discipline will be held, Schurter said. Today is a great victory for Switzerland [after two of his teammates the Flueckiger brothers joined him in winning medals]. "I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I'm sure we will celebrate tonight, and we'll see if we can compete tomorrow. The eliminator is so far not that important for us, but maybe we can recover."

The press conference moderator then joked that perhaps Schurter would, in fact, be "eliminated" from the eliminator before it even started.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.