Nef Wins, Schleper and Koz Close Behind

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Maribor, Slovenia, Jan. 8, 2001--Sonja Nef of Switzerland battled her way through deep ruts on the second run Saturday to collect her fourth World Cupgiant slalom victory of the season while Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) had the second-fastest final run and moved up 13 places to 7th with KristinaKoznick (Burnsville, MN) 17th.

In windy, overcast and 55-degree (13 C) weather, Nef had a two-run time of 2:37.97 with Karen Putzer of Italy in second place at 2:38.21. Third placewent to defending World Cup champion Renate Goetschl of Austria (2:38.33) with first-run leader Corinne Rey-Bellet of Switzerland fourth (2:38.49)and Croatian Janica Kostelic fifth (2:38.91).

Schleper, 20th on the first run, finished seventh in 2:39.34 with Koznick 29th on the first run and moved up to finish 17th with a time of 2:39.93.Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) failed to qualify for a second run.

Coach: "...an incredible run..."

"Sarah had an incredible run - and it wasn't without a mistake," said U.S. Coach Marjan Cernigoj. "She almost fell on the top, so she lost time, butshe pulled it together. She was attacking."

He added, "It was very tough conditions for the last girls. There were very big ruts. Nef racing 29th on the second run had an incredible run to get thewin; everyone at that point in the race was dropping back, but she fought through the ruts..."

Although Maribor often runs into rain or unseasonally warm weather, Cernigoj was impressed by the organizers' ability to stage the race in the sloppyconditions.

Not Much Snow

"It was pretty much phenomenal they were able to hold this race. Only Maribor, which has had so much practice with poor conditions, could do it," hesaid. "They had only five days in December to make snow, but we had 30 or 40 centimeters 12-15 inches for the length of the course. The warmuparea had maybe three inches of snow and was very flat - 12-15 gates at most, but they did it.

"Everything was against them. It was very windy. All the banners were blown off and the start of the second run was delayed about 10 minutesbecause the start shack was blown over," he said.

The women race a slalom Sunday and move to Flachau, Austria, by week's end for three races - downhill, GS and slalom (plus a combinedcalculation).

CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Maribor, Slovenia--Jan. 6

Women's GS

1. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 2:37.97
2. Karen Putzer, Italy, 2:38.21
3. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 2:38.33
4. Corinne Rey-Bellet, Switzerland, 2:38.49
5. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 2:38.91
6. Denise Karbon, Italy, 2:39.11
7. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:39.34
8. Allison Forsythe, Canada, 2:39.38
9. Nicole Gius, Italy, 2:39.46
10. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:39.60
11. (tie) Silvia Berger, Austria, and Mojca Suhadolc, Slovenia, 1:39.75 each
13. Lilian Kummer, Switzerland, 1:39.80
14. Silke Bachmann, Italy, 1:39.83
15. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:39.85
16. Anna Ottosson, Sweden, 1:39.86
17. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 1:39.93
18. Maddalena Planatscher, Italy, 1:40.04
19. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 1:40.13
20. Anita Wachter, Austria, 1:40.19
21. Kumiko Kashiwagi, Japan, 1:40.29
22. Brigitte Obermoser, Austria, 1:40.36
23. (tie) Anja Paerson, Sweden, and Christel Saioni, France, 1:40.50 each
25. Regine Cavagnoud, France, 1:40.57
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Did not qualify for 2nd run: Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO