Three U.S. Women In Top-20 For Second Straight Day

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Berchtesgaden, Germany Jan. 9--U.S. women's SL/GS Coach Georg Capaul celebrates his 50th birthday Monday, but he says hegot his best present a day early when Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) and Caroline Lalive (SteamboatSprings, CO) all jumped into the top-20 of a World Cup race for the second day in a row.

"The racing from these last two days is the best present I could've gotten," Capaul said Sunday after the second night slalom of theseason. "They've been really charging."

Spela Pretnar of Slovenia, who tied with Christel Saioni of France for first at Copper Mountain in the first slalom of the season , led thefirst run Sunday and went on to victory in 1:33.31. Saioni moved up from fifth after the first run to finish second in 1:34.23 and Trine Bakkeof Norway took third with a 1:34.36 clocking.

Koznick, 20th after the first run, moved up to finish 12th in 1:36.13. Schleper was 17th with a time of 1:36.41 and Lalive was 19th in1:36.59.

"Three top 20s - just like Saturday - when Schleper was 11th, Koznick 18th and Lalive 19th in a GS. We're chipping away at the points,"Women's Head Coach Marjan Cernigoj said. "I'm looking at the rankings and this is how I envisioned the season. Last year, we scoredthe most results between 20th and 30th; this year, we've scored the most between 10th and 20th, especially in these last four races."

"This one was an incredible effort from the girls, really a big step up," the coach said. "Again, from a coaching standpoint, it was good tosee everyone with an extra gear. It's so much fun to see. It was quite an awesome team effort."

Koznick had a ragged first run, but really caught the rhythm of the second course and hung-up the seventh-fastest time. He also praisedSchleper's second run and noted that only three skiers from outside the first 30 starters made it into the second run - and Lalive, with No.52, came from the farthest start.

"We're determined, the girls are determined, to keep it going," he said. "We were slow starting, and it's been hard to find a reason, but Ican still count the World Cup starts Sarah has had so far, or Caroline. Sarah doesn't have more than 15 starts on the World Cup. Sheand Caroline, really, are still rookies and we need to keep that in perspective. we don't have many odler skiers, so we have to berealistic."

After back-to-back-to-back GS/SL World Cup stops, the women's tour heads into a downhill/super G combination Jan. 15-16 inAltenmarkt, Austria, and then a DH/SG/GS lineup Jan. 21-23 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy's 1956 Winter Olympics site.