SOELDEN, Austria Oct. 26, 2002 (USSA)--Howling winds swept the Rettenbach Glacier, delaying the start of the alpine World Cup season for two hours Saturday before first-run leader Andrine Flemmen of Norway, Slovenian Tina Maze and unheralded Austrian Nicole Hosp, who had the fastest second run, staged a historic three-way tie for the giant slalom win in 1:49.91.
Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), posting the 15th-fastest second run, moved up three spots to finish 22nd with a time of 1:52.12 in the field of 74 racers. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME), skiing into a strong headwind on her second run, was 28th in 1:52.98.
"They were very tough conditions," said women's Head Coach Marjan Cernigoj. "It was incredibly difficult weather."
Athletes and coaches echoed Cernigoj, calling the conditions unfair for racing.
The first-in-World Cup history triple tie was Flemmen's second victory at the Rettenbach while Maze, fifth in the first run after the lengthy delays, and Hosp, who was 11th in the first run, recorded the first victories of their World Cup careers.
Completing the first five were Stina Nilsen of Norway, finishing fourth while Spaniard Maria Rienda Contreras was fifth.
It was a rewarding start to the season for the Norwegian women, who are coached by former U.S. racer and University of Vermont coach Felix McGrath.
WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Soelden, AUT — Oct. 26, 2002--Rettenbach Glacier
1. (tie) Andrine Flemmen, Norway; Tina Maze, Slovenia; and Nicole Hosp, Austria, all 1:49.91
4. Stina Nilsen, Norway, 1:50.21
5. Maria Rienda Contrerasm 1:50.24
22. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 1:52.12
28. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 1:52.98