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Schleper Sizzles, 2nd in Sestriere SL


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Sestriere, Italy, Dec. 10, 2000–Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) had the second-fastest second run and the first-fastest smile Sunday as she climbed onto her first World Cup podium, finishing second in a slalom in Sestriere.

Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the race tonight at 7 EST.

“Being on the podium is great,” Schleper, a World Junior Championships silver medalist in slalom (1997) who bagged her first World Cup top-10 last season. “I was on Cloud 9, for sure. I was sohappy. I couldn’t believe what happened. It felt good, but it felt a little strange, too.

“I’m gonna sleep easily tonight.”

Janica Kostelic of Croatia, continuing her amazing rebound from knee surgery almost exactly a year ago, had the fastest final run and wonher third straight slalom, this time in 1:41.82. Schleper – 11th in the first run on the icy course – tore through the second run to finishsecond with a clocking of 1:42.15. Third place went to Norwegian racer Trine Bakke (1;42.17) and World Cup leader Martina Ertl ofGermany added to her lead by finishing fourth.

Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) was 11th at 1:43.23 and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) had the fourth-fastest second run andmoved up 11 spots to 17th in 1:44.03. Tasha Nelson (Mound, MN) and Lindsey C. Kildow (Vail, CO) failed to make the top-30 cut.

Capaul: “They executed…”

“Sarah second and ‘Liner’ fourth on that second run. That was exciting. Definitely, it was a good day,” said women’s SL/GS Head CoachGeorg Capaul, who set the second run. “We talked about it last night at the team meeting, how we’ll have our ups and downs and how we’remaking progress, how we’re on an upswing. But everyone, it seems, is on an upswing, so we’ve got to get on that train.

“It’s one thing to listen, but you have to execute, and they executed,” Capaul said.

Schleper, 21, had a lackluster warm-up, the coach said, but as she sat in a mountainside restaurant, he could see determination come intoher eyes. “Sarah wasn’t confident in the morning at all; she didn’t have a good warm-up – a lot of things didn’t go right with her skiing.She didn’t like the ice. But we saw ‘Remember the Titans’ and she remembered it.”

“I was kinda sad. I was crying,” she recalled. “I was having a bad warm-up. I wanted everything to be good for the race – my equipment andeverything. I was getting paranoid. It was an emotional day…

“It was injected snow and I hate that kind of snow because it’s so choppy. But, actually, the first run was a lot better than I thought it’dbe. I wanted to hold an edge – I made sure I had sharp edges,” she said, praising technician Lon Brettell for his work in prepping her skis.”Lon’s been my serviceman ever since I made the Ski Team, and he was really psyched, too; he did such a great job.”

Schleper: “Nothing special…”

She added, “I didn’t feel that good on my second run. The top was kinda turny. I just let ’em run at the bottom, but I didn’t think it wasanything special.”

Eleventh in the first run, she didn’t have much time to enjoy her No. 1 ranking. Kostelic came down next and bumped her “and then wewaited.” Bakke, second in the first run behind Claudia Riegler of New Zealand, made it close – but came up .02 short of Schleper’s time.One skier left; Schleper knew she had her first podium.

And then Riegler skied out on her second run, leaving Kostelic and Schleper 1-2. “That was too bad,” Schleper said – euphoric with herresult but bummed about Riegler’s DNF. “Riegler trains with us a lot, she’s like family.”

The women’s World Cup schedule returns to the speed side next weekend with back-to-back downhills in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Capaulsaid the women will go to Serre Chevalier, Switzerland, this week for a mini-training camp and expect to find out by midweek what willhappen to races scheduled for Dec. 20-21 in Jasna, Slovakia; the early word, he said, is that the races will be transferred to Sestriere.

SSestriere, ITA – Dec. 10

Women’s SL

1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:41.82
2. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 1:42.15
3. Trine Bakke, Norway, 1:42.17
4. Martina Ertl, Germany, 1:42.66
5. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:42.78
6. Karin Koellerer, Austria, 1:42.86
7. Hedda Berntsen, Norway, 1:42.92
8. Vanessa Vidal, France, 1:42.99
9. Henna Raita, Finland, 1:43.16
10. Tanja Putiainen, Finland, 1:43.22
11. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn., 1:43.23
12. Urska Hrovat, Slovenia, 1:43.63
13. Denise Karbon, Italy, 1;43.79
14. Spela Pretnar, Slovenia, 1:43.82
15. Karen Roten Meier, Switzerland, 1:43.85
16. Allison Forsyth, Canada, 1:44.02
17. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:44.03
18. Ylva Nowen, Sweden, 1:44.15
19. Laura Pequegnot, France, 1:44.33
20. ZaliSteggall, Australia, 1:44.41
21. Maria Jose Rienda Contreras, Spain, 1:44.44
22. Anita Wachter, Austria, 1:44.49
23. Noriyo Hiroi, Japan, 1;44.55
24. Carina Raich, Austria, 1:45.25
25. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 1:45.34
26. Anna Ottosson, Sweden, 1:45.45
27. Monika Bergman, Germany, 1:46.13

Did not qualify: Tasha Nelson, Mound, Minn., and Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, Colo.

Cafe de Colombia World Cup

Women’s Overall 11 races

1. Ertl, 560
2. Regine Cavagnoud, France, 439
3. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 396
4. Kostelic, 393
5. Isolde Kostner, Italy, 294
6. Paerson, 290
7. Corinne Rey Bellet, Switzerland, 276
8. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 259
9. Nef, 232
10. Brigitte Obermoser, Austria, 231
11. Carole Montillet, France, 227
12. Petra Haltmayer, Germany, 205
13. Mojca Suhadolc, Slovenia, 171
14. Karen Putzer, Italy, 151
15. Christel Saioni, France, 143

16. Koznick, 135
23. Schleper, 106
24. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif., 102
39. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 70
48. Megan Gerety, Anchorage, Alaska, 40
59. Lalive, 29

Women’s Slalom (3 races)

1. Kostelic, 300
2. Ertl, 210
3. Vidal, 108
4. Koznick, 106
5. Bakke, 105
6. Schleper, 102
7. Paerson, 90
8. Saioni, 86
9. Koellerer, 85
10. Raita, 75

31. Lalive, 14