Kostelic Wins Last Race Before Olympics


February 5, 2006

OFTERSCHWANG, Germany (AP by Roy Kammerer) - Janica Kostelic won the final World Cup slalom before the Olympics and became the second woman to win five different disciplines in a season.

It came one day after the triple Olympic champion missed out on qualifying for the second run of a giant slalom for just the sixth time in her career.

On Sunday, the Croat won her 26th World Cup race in 1 minute, 42.22 seconds, beating Austrians Kathrin Zettel by 1.33 seconds and Marlies Schild by 1.45. Kostelic's second run was .98 quicker than her closest rival. Americans Lindsey Kildow was 11th and Resi Stiegler 13th.

"It was the last race before the Olympics and I wanted to do good," Kostelic said. "It was a race like any other."

Petra Kronberger of Austria was the first woman to win five different disciplines in a season in 1990-91.

Kostelic fought the flu and a high fever, which made her consider skipping the slalom.

"I'm better, but I'm still pretty weak," said Kostelic.

Kostelic was third after the first run but hugged the gates all the way down a fast and flat course on her second, picking up time at every split.

The 19-year-old Zettel, who reached her 10th top-three finish this year, said she felt the pressure of matching Kostelic's second run.

"The news came that she had put down an extreme time," Zettel said. "I had a very hard time the second run."

Anja Paerson, expected to be Kostelic's main rival at the Turin Games, didn't fare as well after she followed the Croat. The first-run leader skidded out about two-thirds down the fast, flat slope after being the only skier close to matching Kostelic's splits.

Kostelic leads in the overall standings over Paerson, who showed she is also ready for the Olympics during the first two days of racing at the World Cup. The Olympics start on Friday.

Paerson shared a giant slalom win with Maria Jose Rienda and was second to the Spaniard in another.

Schild had her streak of three straight slalom wins snapped, but said she was happy with her result since there hadn't been a World Cup slalom in a month.

"I was a little uncertain before the race, but now the confidence is back," Schild said.