Paerson Wins World Cup Giant Slalom Title

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Sweden's Anja Paerson passes a gate on her way to winning a World Cup women's giant slalom, in Region Arber, Germany, Saturday,

ZWIESEL, Germany, Feb. 7 2004 (AP by Roy Kammerer) -- Anja Paerson of Sweden wrapped up the season title in the giant slalom with two races left by winning Saturday's World Cup event by nearly two seconds.

Paerson scored her third giant slalom victory of the season and again overtook Austria's Renate Goetschl in their season-long battle for the overall World Cup title.

Paerson, who has eight victories this season, soared down the steep slope in 2 minutes, 17.8 seconds. Tina Maze of Slovenia was a distant second in 2:19.78 and Goetschl was third, another 0.07 seconds back.

The top American was Sarah Schleper in fifth place. Teammate Caroline Lalive was third after the first run and was on course for a top-three finish until she crashed midway down the slope.

Paerson didn't know until after the race that she had won the discipline's season title. She then raised her arms in celebration.

"Well, what do you know," she said after her 19th career victory. "I just take each race at a time. It's more relaxing. Now I can win the slalom and overall title, too."

Paerson has the edge over Goetschl in the race for the overall title, having four slaloms left. The Austrian has just three events in the speed disciplines to pick up points. Paerson has 1,120 points and Goetschl 1,108.

Goetschl, the 2000 overall World Cup winner, had finished among the top three in a giant slalom only three times before.

"Anja has the advantage, so what can I do," Goetschl said. "But I know if I can do this once, then I can do it again. But she's hard to beat in the slalom."

Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press