Kostelic Wins Slalom Gold at Worlds


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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Feb. 15, 2003 (AP by Eugene Brcic)–Janica Kostelic wasn’t about to miss the slalom race at the World Championships on Saturday with a few bumps and bruises.

Kostelic dominated the field on the sun-blessed but frigid Engiadina course, winning her second gold medal of the championships in 1 minute, 39.55 seconds, 0.63 seconds ahead of Austria’s Marlies Schild.

Austria’s Nicole Hosp, second to Kostelic in the combined, finished third, 0.91 back.

Resi Stiegler was the only American to complete both runs, finishing 19th.

Earlier, Kostelic told her doctors that the only way she would miss the slalom was if they tied her to the bed.

“I really tried my heart out as much as I could,” Kostelic said. “I know I kept saying I didn’t put much stock into the World Championships, but it is a bit cool, afterall.”

Kostelic, whose career was in limbo after a terrible crash in downhill training here three years ago, came into the race with an injured right knee and a badly bruised shoulder blade.

She hurt the knee a few weeks ago and aggravated it at the worlds, and the shoulder was hurt after she slammed into a gate with the inside of her elbow during Thursday’s giant slalom.

“My shoulder hurt more than my knee. It was worse at the start, but it got better as I went,” Kostelic said.

Gritting her teeth, the Croatian sensation let her skis slide through the stiff snow, delivering a textbook lesson on style and technique with perfectly symmetrical leg and upper body movement as she negotiated the gates.

Kostelic had to fend off allegations that her injuries were hyped up to inflate her ego or attract sympathy.

“I don’t want to mention any names, but someone said that I’m not injured and that I’m just playing mind games or something like that,” Kostelic said. “That’s not nice of them.

“Nothing is broken but it does hurt, and I can’t go at 100 percent.”

The two Austrian medals raised the country’s championship-leading total to nine.

“I am speechless,” said Schild, who only had one third-place finish earlier this year as her best career slalom result.

Hosp, who already had silver from the combined event behind Kostelic, said the bronze exceeded her wildest imaginations.

“I didn’t expect to win any medals at all. Now I’m going home with two. It’s madness,” Hosp said.

Although she plans to undergo extensive therapy for her knee as soon as she returns to her native Croatia, Kostelic does not plan on missing more than one event on the World Cup calendar.

“I will continue on as I want to deserve the World Cup and not quit in the middle of it,” she said.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press