Kostelic Crashes in Final Super-G, Hurts Hand

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Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria March 7, 2002 (AP)--Janica Kostelic, a triple gold medal winner at the Winter Olympics, was taken to a hospital with an injured right hand after crashing Thursday during the season's final World Cup super-G race.

Kostelic, who also won a silver medal in the super-G at the games, lost control of her skis coming off a jump midway down the Weltcupstrecke Zauchensee course and cartwheeled down the hill.

``I had a strange jump and I don't exactly know what happened,'' Kostelic said before leaving for a hospital for X-rays. ``I just hope it's not too serious.''

The Croatian sensation was leading before crashing despite a later start number and rapidly deteriorating snow conditions.

The crash looked serious, with Kostelic bouncing down the course at high speed as the other skiers watched her on the jumbo screen in the finish area. But the 20-year-old immediately got up, brushed the snow off and collected her scattered equipment.

Kostelic, 12th in the World Cup slalom standings led by France's Laure Pequegnod, swept gold in the combined, slalom and giant slalom events, becoming the first skier ever to win four medals at a single Olympics.

She missed the first half of the World Cup season while recovering from three operations on her left knee, and was only 30th in the giant slalom standings. Only the top 25 qualify for the final but she got in as Olympic champion.