Maze Wins GS, Mancuso Takes Sixth

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Dec. 22, 2004 (AP by Erica Bulman)--Slovenia's Tina Maze won her second career World Cup race Wednesday, and defending champion Anja Paerson regained the lead in the overall standings with a second-place finish in the giant slalom.

Maze was behind Paerson after the first run, but had a smooth, clean second run down the sun-soaked Engiadina course to finish with a combined time of 2 minutes, 26.99 seconds. Paerson finished second with an aggregate time of 2:27.11, with Marie Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain third in 2:27.73.

Julia Mancuso had the best U.S. result, finishing sixth in 2:28.52.

Another American skier, Kristina Koznick, crashed during the first run, skidding off the course and colliding with a gate. She had blurred vision, a bruised jaw and a 1-inch cut on her tongue. Koznick also had bruised ribs, but the U.S. team doctor said she didn't appear to have any broken bones or torn ligaments.

Maze's previous World Cup victory was at Soelden, Austria, in 2002, when she tied for first in a giant slalom with Norway's Andrine Flemmen and Austrian Nicole Hosp.

``That victory came a bit early,'' Maze said. ``I didn't expect that and I didn't feel like I was the best. After that I had some bad times, ups and downs. After winning in Soelden, I didn't qualify for the second run in GS three times in a row.

``I was in a rut. I needed time to get out. Now I feel strong and ready.''

Italy's Karen Putzer was fourth, .93 off the pace, while Tanja Poutiainen finished a disappointing fifth and lost the overall World Cup lead to Paerson.

``Everyone is battling. Last year I was lucky, I had a good season, but this year it's hard to stay up there,'' Paerson said. ``Everybody's really fighting for it. But it's nice to have the red bib.''

Poutiainen dropped from fourth after the opening leg and crossed the line 1.47 seconds behind Maze. The Finn had already lost ground to Paerson in Tuesday's super-G, which she was forced to sit out because of lower back pain. Paerson finished 13th in the super-G for 20 points.

Paerson, who captured the overall title last season along with the giant slalom and slalom, now has 493 points. Poutiainen slipped to second with 486.

Croatian Janica Kostelic, making a comeback after a year off due to illness and injury, was third after the opening run but crashed during the second leg.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press