Paerson Skipping Last Downhill

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SESTRIERE, Italy, Mar. 8 2004 (AP) -- Overall World Cup leader Anja Paerson skipped Monday's training session for the season's final downhill and will miss the race.

Paerson is not injured, and organizers said the Swede simply decided she did not want to compete in the downhill.

Paerson holds a 173-point lead over Renate Goetschl in the overall standings and would have little to gain by taking part in the downhill, in which she has earned only 17 points.

She still plans to race in the final Super G, slalom and giant slalom races.

Monday's training determined Wednesday's starting order. Lindsey Kildow of the United States was one of the few skiers to go all out, and she posted the fastest time, finishing in 1 minute, 45.73 seconds. Isolde Kostner of Italy and Nadia Styger of Switzerland tied for second, 0.43 seconds behind.

Kildow's best downhill result was a third-place finish in Cortina d'Ampezzo in January.

"I wasn't really expecting to be that fast," she said. "But I skied pretty well."

Wednesday's race opens the World Cup Finals, which include the last men's and women's races in each alpine discipline, plus cross country, snowboarding and freestyle.

Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press