Koznick dips toes into new event

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Copper Mountain, CO Nov. 20 (AP by Mike Clark)--Ten months after being scared to death, Kristina Koznick is eager to gain more speed in her newest ski discipline, giant slalom.

America's best slalom skier--she's won World Cup races each of the last two seasons--made up her mind to add GS to her repertoire.

She took an encouraging first step in her new discipline on Friday, placing 27th, only 1.59 seconds behind the winner, in a GS at this Colorado resort.

She was introduced to the faster gate discipline during the world championships at Vail in February, and her first thought was that maybe she'd bitten off too much.

``This course is about the same speed as the world championships course in Vail, and I can remember coming down at Vail and being so scared because it was so fast,'' she said with a laugh. ``Now I want to go faster.''

Koznick's point-scoring finisher in only her second GS might have surprised some people, but not the 23-year-old from Burnsville, Minn. After nine seasons of top-level competition, she has learned what it takes to excel.

``I didn't just go for a finish. I know if I could qualify once, I can qualify again,'' she reasoned. ``That's one thing I've learned going through the whole thing in slalom. It took me three years to figure out how to qualify. With GS, I wasn't just here to qualify. Might as well go as fast as I can.

``With slalom, my learning curve--not necessarily my technical skiing learning curve, but learning how to adjust to World Cup and ski _ was pretty slow. With GS, I'm not going to go through this again. I'm out here to ski fast and if I'm not going to ski fast, I might as well go home. Now I know the difference.''

She also knows to expect a lot from herself, having learned in slalom that she can deliver the goods. Sure enough, scoring points on Friday didn't satisfy her.

``I was totally being me, though, the typical me,'' she said. ``I come down and see that I'm not first and I know I can go faster, and I get mad. I'm kind of hard on myself.''

Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press