Park City, UT, Nov. 18, 2000--Croatian Janica Kostelic took another giant step forward in her comeback from a knee injury Saturday as she won the slalom event at the Chevy Truck America's Opening World Cup at Park City Mountain Resort.
ESPN2 will broadcast the race Sunday at 4:30 p.m. EST.
Kostelic was the leader after the first run under sunny skies on Park City's Picabo's Run. She threw down an amazing second run on a tough set and won with a combined time of 1:29.24, 1.73 seconds better than second place finisher Martina Ertl of Germany (1:30.97). France's Christel Saioni, second after the first run, took third with a time of 1:31.02.
The win served as a huge confidence builder for Kostelic during her comeback season. She wasthe overall World Cup points leader last season before blowing her knee out, which forced her to miss the second half of the season.
"I attacked on the second run," said Kostelic. "It's the only way to ski."
Three American racers qualified for the second run, but just one finished. Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) tied for 12th with Austrian Anita Wachteras both posted times of 1:32.60. Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), who was the top American in 10th after the opening run, did not finishher second run as she hooked a ski tip on one of the last few gates of the course. Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), 12th after the first run, slid off thecourse after the sixth gate at the top of the course.
Koznick, who was also the top U.S. finisher in Thursday's giant slalom (18th), started fifth and was tied for 13th with Sweden's Anna Ottosson afterthe first run. She had minor problems on the top section of the second run as she bobbled around a gate and scrubbed some time.
"I was really conservative (in the) first run because I have brand new skis," said Koznick. "So second run, I was just like, well, I'm gonna go as hardas I can."
Koznick was skiing on a pair of 168s that she picked up just two days ago.
It was an extremely disappointing day for Schleper as she was coming off a pair of Chevy Truck Super Series wins last weekend in Colorado.She couldn't carry that success over to the World Cup as she also skied off course in Thursday's GS.
A high point for the U.S. Team was the skiing of 16 year-old Lindsey C. Kildow (Vail, CO). In her World Cup debut, Kildow was 29th after skiing a45.62 in her first run. She was bumped to 30th and held that spot with just three skiers remaining. However, thoughts of a second run drifted awayas Slovakian Veronika Zuzulova, coming out of the 64th start spot, recorded a 45.15, good for 23rd place and good for bumping Kildow out of thetop-30.
"It doesn't matter," said an upbeat Kildow. "I skied well and I'm happy."
The Chevy Truck America's Opening World Cup concludes Sunday with men's slalom. U.S. competitors include Sacha Gros (Vail, CO), BradHogan (Holmes, NY), Chip Knight (Stowe, Vt.), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA) and Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT).Schlopy finished a career-best fourth in Friday's giant slalom.