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PARK CITY, UT Nov. 23, 2002 (USSA Release)–Olympic slalom champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia, noting “I guess there’s something between this course and me,” grabbed the first-run lead Saturday and powered her way through softening snow to her 14th World Cup victory in a slalom at the Chevy Truck America’s Opening, At sun-splashed Park City Mountain Resort, Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) led three U.S. racers into the top 25, finishing sixth.
ESPN will televise coverage of the race, the first slalom of the World Cup season, Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST.
In grabbing her second slalom victory at Park City, where she won two years earlier, Kostelic finished with a two-run time of 1:39.61 and took over the World Cup points lead after three races. Christel Pascal of France was runnerup in 1:40.31 with Austrian Sabine Egger, 15th in the first run, moving up to third in the field of 58 with a time of 1:40.75 on Picabo’s Run.
Last February, Kostelic won the Olympic giant slalom at Park City Mountain Resort. Thursday, she was third in GS.
Schleper, fourth in the first run, conceded she was “so nervous” before her second run, but had a total time of 1:41.21. Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) was 18th and Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) scored slalom points for the second time in her brief career, coming home 25th.
COACH SAYS “WE OPENED THE DOOR…”
“We opened the door. We had one foot in there (close to the top-3 podium), but we didn’t walk in there. We stayed outside,” said women’s slalom/GS Head Coach Matthias Berthold, “Still, it was a good step forward.
“We’re working on stuff. It’s getting better and better, but obviously we’re not quite there yet.”
Schleper said she was anxious before the start of the final run but she calmed herself by telling herself, “I’ve just had the best first run of slalom I’ve had; I’m with the best skiers in the world and I am one of the best skiers in the world.”
As she waited for her second-run start, four from the end, “I knew at the top I didn’t feel good, but probably nobody did because it was so rough and cross-rutted,” she said.
“I think I did good on the bottom but I think I can do better. I was working out of the flushes and hairpins (of slalom pole placements) to make the next gate really good, and then I kind of let the next gate after that slip a little bit. I just have to touch up some little things,” she said.
UNSEASONAL WEATHER SOFTENS SNOW
Despite the warm temperatures, the first course held-up well, she said, but the near-cloudless sky meant the second run course softened “because there was not much you could do.”
The America’s Opening races conclude Sunday with men’s slalom. The women move on to Aspen, CO, for the Chevy Truck Aspen Winternational with super G Friday and another slalom Saturday.
ALPINE WORLD CUP SKIING
Chevy Truck America’s Opening
Park City Mountain Resort
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:39.61
2. Christel Pascal, France, 1:40.31
3. Sabine Egger, Austria, 1:40.75
4. Laure Pequegnot, France, 1:40.79
5. Marlies Schild, Austria, 1:41.01
6. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 1:41.21
18. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 1:42.03
25. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 1:42.57
DNF-1: Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, CO
World Cup Overall Standings (3 races)
1. Kostelic, 184 points
2. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 132
3. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 121
4T. Andrine Flemmen, Norway; Birgit Heeb-Batliner, Liechtenstein; Tina Maze, Slovenia, 100 each
12T. Schleper, 60
32. Koznick, 25
33. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 23
48. Mancuso, 6