Nef Wins Women's Giant Slalom in Val d'Isere

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Val d'Isere, France Dec. 16, 2001 (AP by Michael McDonough)--Switzerland's Sonja Nef captured a World Cup giant slalom Sunday, winning her favorite event for the first time this season.

The reigning World Cup champion in the discipline was timed in 2 minutes, 23.80 seconds.

``I had to give everything,'' Nef said. ``It's harder to win this year. The competition is very tough and every mistake costs dear.''

Sweden's Anja Paerson was second in 2:24.46 and Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister, who won the season's opening giant slalom, was third in 2:24.63.

Sarah Schleper of the United States was seventh after a promising first run but wound up in 12th place. Compatriot Kristina Koznick was 19th.

Janica Kostelic, last season's overall World Cup winner, crashed early in the opening run and limped off the Oreiller Killy course. The Croatian star said she hurt her hip and shoulder but not her right knee, which was injured in March and forced her to miss the start of this season.

Nef won six World Cup races in the event last season _ five of them in a row _ and took the world title. But she settled for a second and a third place in this season's opening two races.

``It's a big relief after the second and third places,'' she said. ``I was very pleased with them, but today I'm delighted.''

Nef said that before the race she thought of teammate Silvano Beltrametti's crash on the same course last weekend. He was paralyzed from the chest down in a downhill.

``It will take weeks to forget,'' she said. ``I thought about the place where he came off the slope.''

Nef was second after the opening leg, then set the fastest time in the second run.

She extended her lead in the event standings. She has won 10 World Cup giant slaloms and is favored to win in the discipline at the Salt Lake City Olympics in February.

Dorfmeister retained her overall lead in the World Cup despite her third-place finish Sunday and her sixth place in Saturday's super G. Nef was second overall and Italy's Isolde Kostner was in third place.

Paerson's second-place finish came less than a week after her slalom victory at Sestrieres, Italy, which was her second career World Cup win.

Norway's Andrine Flemmen took first place in the opening run on Sunday but clipped a gate with her arm early in the second run and finished fourth overall.

Canada's Allison Forsyth rose from ninth to fifth place thanks to a strong second run, slower only than Nef's.

``It was some of my best skiing,'' Forsyth said.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press