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Koznick Grabs Season's First World Cup Podium Finish


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Are, Sweden Feb. 21 (AP by Stephan Nasstrom)–Illuminated or not, Kristina Koznick likes Gastrappet _ the world’s only illuminated slalom and giant slalom course.

At age 17, she finished in the points for the first time here in a 1993 World Cup day slalom. In 1998, she celebrated her first World Cup win in a night slalom.

Returning to her lucky hill Sunday, “Koz” made the podium for the first time this season, missing first place by only .24 seconds in a day slalom.

“I like it here,” she said. “It makes me feel at home. I grew up in a place really similar in Minnesota. It’s very similar to Sweden. So it’s comfortable.”

By moving up the start for Sunday’s race, the slalom course turned much better and tougher.

“I think it was a better race today than it was two years ago when I won,” Koznick said. “For me, it was just nice to stand in the start no matter where I was and say: `I can win today,’ not “I hope I do OK.’ All year, I’ve been going back and forth. My confidence is good, then one day it’s bad.”

Koznick, whose fourth place in the slalom a week ago at Santa Caterina, Italy, was a big boost for morale, feels she’s getting her consistency back after switching skis.

As many other racers, Koznick had problems adjusting her technique to the new shorter skis introduced in slalom racing.

“It was a big change for me,” she said. “I skied on the same skis for 10 years, and it took me the year to get used to them.”

Spela Pretnar, whose win here last year was her first in a World Cup slalom, won Sunday’s race, the eighth and last before the World Cup finals next month at Bormio, Italy.

Pretnar’s win, her third straight and fourth of the season in the slalom, gave her a 55-point lead in the slalom standings.

“The conditions were very demanding,” she said. “Everybody was very close (after the first run), and I focused to give my best, not thinking about the World Cup slalom title. I just tried hard to be as aggressive as possible. It’s a very important victory for the slalom cup.”

Third went to Sweden’s Anja Paerson, .47 behind the winner.

France’s Christer Saioni led Koznick by .03 after the first run, but dropped to fourth overall, .51 behind Pretnar. Saioni trails Pretnar 556 points to 501 in the slalom standings. Koznick moved to seventh with 228 points.

Renate Goetschl of Austria, winner of Saturday’s sprint downhill on the adjacent Olympia course, skied out in the first run.

Sonja Nef of Switzerland, winner of Thursday’s giant slalom under the lights, straddled a gate in the second run after posting the fifth-fastest time in the morning.

Goetschl retained a 56-point lead (1,053-997) over teammate Michaela Dorfmeister in the World Cup overall standings. Dorfmeister doesn’t compete in the slalom. XtremeSports

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press