Kostelic Back at Site of '99 Accident

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January 19, 2006

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP by Erica Bulman)—Overall World Cup leader Janica Kostelic finally made it down the Corviglia downhill course Thursday _ seven years after crashing here and tearing ligaments in her right leg.

Since the spill, Kostelic has avoided this annual downhill race and other tricky speed races. But she said she no longer thinks about the fall.

``It was a strange jump at the time and they changed it after I crashed, so it was obvious something was wrong with it,'' said Kostelic, who finished 13th in the only training run for Saturday's race.

The Croat tore four knee ligaments and badly damaged two more during downhill practice in 1999, soaring off an artificial jump and landing precariously on her right leg before falling on her back and ending up in the safety netting.

She was one of the skiers _ Switzerland's Sylviane Berthod, Austria's Silvia Berger and Kristine Kristiansen of Norway were the others _ to have their season end after tearing knee ligaments during that weekend.

On Thursday, Kostelic made it down the hill in 1 minute, 46.18 seconds. She said she liked the Rominger jump at the bottom of the course.

``It's nice. It's not dangerous, you go far and not too high,'' said Kostelic. ``I like normal jumps. I like far jumps but not high jumps.''[pagebreak]Kostelic did run the downhill leg for the combined event _ which she won _ at the 2003 St. Moritz world championships, but on a different track.

Nicole Hosp of Austria had the fastest time of 1:45.12 in her first World Cup downhill training session. She said she was familiar with the course after winning a lower-tier Europa Cup downhill last week.

Hosp was followed by teammate Michaela Dorfmeister, who clocked 1:45.76. Fraenzi Aufdenblatten was third in 1:45.78, 0.19 seconds ahead of fellow Swiss Nadia Styger. Canada's Allison Forsyth was fifth in 1:45.99.

Jonna Mendes was the fastest U.S. skier, finishing sixth in 1:46.01, while her teammate Lindsey Kildow, the winner of two downhills this season, crossed 19th. Kildow was coming off ninth and 18th place finishes in last weekend's back-to-back downhills in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.

``I wasn't embarrassed, just disappointed,'' Kildow said. ``I had a really hard time in Bad Kleinkirchheim. It was really flat with really abrupt turns. I'm glad to be racing somewhere else this week. This course is more my style. There are more open, flowing turns. You can really let the skis go down the fall line.''

Sweden's Anja Paerson, who has all but given up on her chances of defending her overall World Cup title, was 32nd in 1:47.15.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press