Kostelic Wins Women's Slalom

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Sestriere, Italy, Dec. 13 (AP) _ Janica Kostelic wouldn't let a bruised leg keep her from her second victory of the season.

Kostelic, a 17-year-old Croatian, was a questionable starter Sunday after bruising her right thigh following a spill during practice Saturday.

She overcame the injury and beat Anja Paerson of Sweden by more than a second to win a World Cup slalom.

The victory put her in first place in the World Cup overall standings and strengthened her lead in the specialty standings.

She has 420 points after 10 events. Austrian speed specialist Michaela Dorfmeister is second with 342 and did not compete in the slalom.

Kostelic was fastest in both runs, with a combined time of 1 minute, 39.36 seconds in the third slalom race of the season.

``I felt pain especially in the first run,'' she said.

Paerson, 18, finished second in 1:40.48. France's Christel Saioni took third, 2.08 seconds behind the winner.

Kostelic put on weight in the offseason, and she says it has helped her skiing.

``At last, I had regular meals and I ate much more,'' she said. ``It's no secret. I feel stronger this season and shorter skis are helping me a lot.''

Norway's Trine Bakke finished fourth. France's Helene Richard, 20th after the first run, climbed to a career-best fifth by finishing second in the second run.

``I really had a sensational second run, but I can regret the first,'' she said.

Other top finishers included Sabine Egger of Austria (sixth), Claudia Riegler of New Zealand (seventh) and Kristina Koznick of the United States (eighth).

The women's next races, two downhills and a super-G, are Dec. 17-19 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press