Ertl Wins Women's World Cup Opener
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SOELDEN, Austria Oct. 25, 2003 (AP by Erica Bulman)–Martina Ertl of Germany opened the World Cup ski season by winning a giant slalom Saturday, her first victory in three years.
“This is absolutely sensational,” said Ertl, who screamed in the finish area when she realized she had won. “Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting so long.”
She had a two-run time of 2 minutes, 31.86 seconds in recording her 14th World Cup victory.
Anja Paerson of Sweden, the World Cup champion and reigning world championship gold medalist, was second in 2:32.06. Maria Jose Rienda Contreras was third in 2:32.25, giving Spain its first top-three finish since Carolina Ruiz Castillo in 2000.
Sarah Schleper of the United States was seventh in 2:34.30.
“I’m psyched,” Schleper said. “The atmosphere on our team is getting better and better.”
Teammate Kirsten Clark was 23rd, and Caroline Lalive was 28th.
Ertl’s last World Cup victory was a giant slalom on the same site in October 2000. She has been struggling since a series of knee injuries in that season.
The German was third in the 2002 Olympic combined event, which adds the downhill and slalom times.
“It’s been two years that I’ve been injury-free, but it has been a long road back to the top,” Ertl said. “I am lucky that I am a person who has a lot of energy and determination and I really wanted to fight.”
Paerson, who has added the speed disciplines to her regimen, had trouble adjusting to the slope.
“The snow conditions were tough,” she said. “I was all over the place and it was difficult to find my rhythm.”
Schleper was tied for 13th after the first run, then rose to seventh after posting the fifth-fastest second run.
“I’m believing more and more in myself,” she said. “The first run, I made a pretty bad mistake coming onto the flats and that cost me a bit. I let it go on the second run.”
Chimene Alcott finished 25th in 2:36.54, becoming the first British woman to qualify for the second run of a World Cup giant slalom.
The men’s World Cup season opens Sunday with a giant slalom.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press