Kostner Wins Women's Downhill

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St. Moritz, Switzerland, Dec. 17 (AP by Erica Bulman)--Italy's Isolde Kostner won a women's World Cup downhill today, her third victory of the season.

Kostner sped down the Corviglia course in 1 minute, 37.81 seconds to clinch her second win in as many downhill races this season.

Kostner _ who has five career World Cup downhill victories, two super-G wins and has 31 Top 3 finishes in the two events overall _ has abruptly re-emerged this season after a prolonged slump.

Winless for almost two years, Kostner has suddenly surged to the forefront of women's skiing this year, beginning with her triumph in the season-opening downhill and a victory in a super-G in Val d'Isere last week.

Germany's Regina Haeusl, whose best result this season was a 10th place finish in the Val d'Isere super-G, was runner-up behind Kostner in 1:37.89.

Slovenia's Spela Bracun was a surprise third, crossing in 1:38.03 for her best World Cup finish. The Slovenian's previous best result was a sixth place in a super-G in Cortina in 1998.

Austria's Renate Goetschl was fourth in 1:38.12, ahead of compatriot Michaela Dorfmeister, fifth in 1:38.25.

Unheralded Merete Fjeldavlie of Norway was another unexpected presence among the top 10, finishing sixth with her time of 1:38.30.

Switzerland's Corinne Rey Bellet delighted the home crowd, taking the lead for a brief moment before dropping to seventh at 1:38.37. Her compatriot Sylviane Berthod clocked the eighth-fastest time, crossing in 1:38.46.

Kostner's worry over Hilde Gerg proved to be for nothing, the German crossing back in 10th place. 0.75 behind.

The race was marked by the absence of Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic, who tore multiple knee ligaments during Thursday's downhill training session.

Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press