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Kostelic Becomes Most Decorated Woman in Olympic Skiing History


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February 20, 2006

SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP by Andrew Dampf)—An ailing Janica Kostelic didn’t even plan on skiing the super-G. She did, though, and the Olympic record book will never be the same.

Kostelic’s silver Monday was her sixth Alpine skiing medal _ her second in as many races here and a new career record for a woman.

The 24-year-old Croatian still has a pair of events to go, health permitting.

“For now I have six and we will see. Even if I quit now I would be happy, Kostelic said.

Her four golds _ one here and three in Salt Lake City in 2002 _ are another record,

Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister followed her downhill victory with her second gold medal of these games, covering a relatively easy super-G course in 1 minute, 32.47 seconds.

Kostelic wasn’t bothered by finishing 0.27 seconds behind Dorfmeister.

“If she won today, she was better. It’s not her fault; it’s my fault. I don’t take things so seriously, she said.

Or, as her father and coach Ante Kostelic put it, even though his daughter didn’t win, “all the medals is victory for us.

If it weren’t for foul weather, Kostelic would have had to wait until Wednesday’s slalom or Friday’s giant slalom to surpass the two other women who had five Olympic Alpine medals.

She’s been sick and, after winning the combined event Saturday, said she wouldn’t race Sunday’s super-G. Then a snow storm forced officials to postpone the race until Monday, giving Kostelic a chance to recuperate.

She felt well enough to do a handstand at the starting gate.

It seems Kostelic wins a medal whenever she skis _ she won all three races she entered at last season’s world championships.

“It is a fact, Ante Kostelic said of his daughter’s domination.

She may not be through yet. Janica is the defending slalom champion, though her father said winning at these Olympics wouldn’t be easy.

“These Austrian girls are very good, Ante Kostelic said, referring to Marlies Schild, Kathrin Zettel and Nicole Hosp. “And Anja Paerson is still here. She is not dead.

Sweden’s Paerson won the past two overall World Cup titles but so far has only two bronze medals from these games. She finished 12th Monday.

“I didn’t get any rhythm on the course and I tried to find a lot of speed but it was difficult to find it, Paerson said. In other words, the course could have been more challenging.

Dorfmeister and other skiers criticized the course last year as too easy, signing a petition to move the race to the men’s venue in nearby Sestriere. Organizers responded by enlarging the jumps and adding bumps and rolling terrain over the summer.[pagebreak]Paerson was still impressed with her rival Kostelic.

“She’s proven herself strong every time she’s come to race, Paerson said.

The super-G was run under sunny skies after several days of snow. With the race delayed from the weekend to a weekday, the stands weren’t full.

Many of those who did show up wore the red and white of Croatia.

The Croatians cheered when Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer finished behind Kostelic to take the bronze medal and did not seem too dejected when Dorfmeister, the last of the top skiers to race, put down the day’s best run.

It was Meissnitzer’s third Olympic medal. Dorfmeister had not won an Olympic gold medal before coming here and is retiring after this World Cup season.

“It’s the top to finish my career like this, Dorfmeister said.

Lindsey Kildow was the top American in seventh place, with teammate Julia Mancuso 11th. Kildow is still suffering the effects from a crash in downhill training last week that required treatment at a Turin hospital.

“I have this weird pocket of fluid in my back and it doesn’t seem to want to go away, Kildow said.

Kildow is one of the few women entered in all five Alpine events at these games.

But Kostelic still sets the standard.

Immediately after the super-G medal ceremony and doping exams, Kostelic went off to train for the giant slalom.

Her total medal counnt could be eight by the time these games are finished. Her father is not counting them up.

“I’m not occupied with this, he said. “I know you don’t believe us, but we just really like to ski.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press