PARK CITY, UT Nov. 21, 2002 (USST Release)--Liechtenstein's Birgit Heeb-Batliner overtook Austrian first-run leader Alexandra Meissinitzer to earn the first World Cup win of her career Thursday by .06 on Day One of the Chevy Truck America's Opening races at Park City Mountain Resort. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) had the second-best GS result of her career, finishing 13th to lead U.S. skiers.
ESPN will televise race coverage Friday at 2 p.m. EST.
Heeb-Batliner's sun-splashed, two-run time was 2:26.78 with Meissnitzer the 1999 World Cup champion who tore knee ligaments at Lake Louise the following season posting her best GS finish since that '99 season. Her time was 2:26.84 and Croatian Janica Kostelic, who won Olympic gold in GS on her last visit to Park City Mountain Resort last February, completing the podium (2:26.96); later, she was walking with an obvious limp to her left leg.
Clark's time in the unseasonal 50-degree sunshine was 2:29.35 with Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) 19th in 2:29.79 and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), surviving a near spill on her second run, tied for 20th in the field of 71 (2:29.82).
"I was punching it more in that second run. I'm happy with that second run," Clark, a Carrabassett Valley Academny grad, said. "The snow was soft but it was good&"I started feeling better on that second run. The first one I was a little nervous."
Schleper went down on her right hip as she drove her left ski into a turn in the midsection of the run, popped up and continued her run. "I was taking risks and I just leaned in," she said. "Instinct kept me going."
Alpine Director Jesse Hunt said, "For the women right now, the giant slalom is a challenge. It's their weakest event. We've had two giant slaloms this year and they've definitely let us know where we are and we just have to work on it. That's all there is to it."
The Chevy Truck America's Opening, which annually marks the start of continuous World Cup racing, continues Friday with the second men's giant slalom of the season.
ALPINE WORLD CUP
Chevy Truck America's Opening
1. Birgit Heeb-Batliner, Liechtenstein, 2:26.782. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 2:26.843. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 2:26.964. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 2:27.585. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 2:37.77
13. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 2:29.3519. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 2:29.7920T Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:29.82
Did not qualify for 2nd run:
Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO; Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA