Spain's Rienda Wins Women's Giant Slalom

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February 3, 2006

OFTERSCHWANG, Germany (AP by Roy Kammerer) - Maria Jose Rienda of Spain won her second giant slalom of the season Friday, while American Julia Mancusco finished 10th.

Rienda had the fastest time in both runs to win in 2 minutes, 19.52 seconds, becoming the first skier to win the discipline twice this season. She was .64 ahead of Swede Anja Paerson, and Austrian Kathrin Zettel finished third.

"I'm feeling good and I will try to feel the same at the Olympics," Rienda said. "I'm skiing so well - I think it was perfect today."

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Janica Kostelic was 14th after two mistake-riddled runs.

The 30-year-old Rienda won her fourth career race, all giant slaloms, and picked up her second win this season after a victory in Aspen, Colorado. The five previous giant slalom races had produced five different winners.

Paerson is the world champion and tops the giant slalom season standings, ahead of Kostelic.

"She can take the favorite role, I don't mind. She is skiing very well right now," Paerson said of Rienda. "In giant slalom, we really have a tight top _ a lot of girls are skiing well."

Paerson was .84 seconds ahead of Zettel and appeared set to win her 32nd World Cup race. But Rienda skied last and turned on the speed in the middle of the course, the fastest part, to top Paerson.

Like Kostelic, her longtime rival, Paerson is a threat to win several golds at the Olympics. Both have recorded World Cup wins this season in all four major disciplines.

The 24-year-old, who is still chasing her first Olympic gold, wanted to test her form in the slalom and giant slalom.

"I'm feeling good about my racing," said Paerson, who won a super-G last weekend. "Right now I'm trying to get in a rhythm."

The giant slalom will be followed by another on Saturday and a slalom Sunday. They are the final races ahead of the Turin Games, which start Feb. 10.

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Results

WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP

Ofterschwang, GER - Feb. 3, 2006
Women's GS (from Marbor, SLO)

1. Maria Jose Rienda, Spain, 2:19.64
2. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 2:20.16
3. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 2:20.36
4. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 2:20.68
5. Anna Ottosson, Sweden, 2:20.89
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10. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 2:21.30
25. Kristina Koznick, Eagan, Minn., 2:23.11
30. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 2:33.34
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Did not qualify for 2nd run:Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, Vt.; Lauren Ross, Stowe, Vt.; Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn.; Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, Wash.; Kirsten Mielke, Dillon, Colo.

For complete results:http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?event_id=17209