Putzer wins Val d'Isere GS, Schleper eighth

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VAL D'ISERE, France (USST report) - Italy's Karen Putzer took the first-run leadThursday in a World Cup giant slalom and went on to collect her secondconsecutive victory, edging Sonja Nef, the defending World Cup and world GSchampion. Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) led four American women into the top 30,finishing in a tie for eighth place.

Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the season's third GS Saturday at3 p.m. EST.

Putzer, whose three previous World Cup wins were in super G, including lastSunday at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, had a two-run time of 2:22.17 asshe climbed into second place in the World Cup points behind Croatian JanicaKostelic, who was fifth. Nef finished in 2:22.53.

Schleper, ninth in the first run, tied Austrian Nicole Hosp for eighth (2:23.35)with Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) 17th, Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME)22nd and Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) 29th.

"It was a good day for us because GS is not our strongest event, but Sarah had agood race - her best GS in two years - and Caroline came from No. 55 start toget her best giant slalom in three years. I was really happy with Sarah's raceand Caroline's placing gives us another quota spot in GS," said Head CoachMarjan Cernigoj. "We were able to bring the intensity from Canada to Vald'Isere, which was excellent.

"We had a long, cold week at Lake Louise and I was concerned about peoplegetting sick, but they've all been healthy and today they had that fire again.The light was flat on the second run," he continued, "but the snow was ideal,just perfect conditions. That was why Caroline was able to attack from the back,the conditions held up."

Clark was 12th in the first run "and was attacking on the second run - she's soconfident now in her GS; she knows she can ski with these girls in GS - but shemade a mistake in the middle and there's no place to make-up time. But she wasreally aggressive."

The women complete their visit to Val d'Isere Friday with the third super G ofthe season.

FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
Criterium des Neiges
Val d'Isere, FRA - Dec. 12
Women's GS
1. Karen Putzer, Italy, 2:22.17
2. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 2:22.53
3. (tie) Alexandra Meissnitzer and Michaela Dorfmeister, both Austria, 2:23.05each
5. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 2:23.10
-8T. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:23.35
17. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 2:23.70
22. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 2:23.97
29. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 2:25.32
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WORLD CUP STANDINGS (8 races)
1. Kostdelic, 467 points
2. Putzer, 307
3. Carole Montillet, France, 301
4. Martina Ertl, Germany, 260
5. Dorfmeister, 242
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6. Clarky, 237
18T. Lalive
22. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, CA
25. Schleper, 92
38T. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 51
57T. Koznick, 27
69. Katie Monahan, Aspen, CO, 15
74T. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 11
84T. Bryna McCarty, Concord, VT, 6