Koznick, Schleper Finish in Top-10 in Megeve.


MEGEVE, France (Jan. 5) – World Cup leader Anja Paerson of Sweden collected her fifth victory of the season Monday, jumping from fifth to first place in a slalom as top skiers ran into problems. Kristina Koznick vaulted 11 places – to sixth – with a solid second run while Sarah Schleper tied for eighth and Resi Stiegler was 17th.

Paerson had a total time of 1:42.25. First-run leader Maria Schild of Austria, bidding for her first win, was second in 1:42.59 and German teammates Martina Ertl and Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer completed the podium, deadlocked for third place at 1:42.70.

Each of the qualifying U.S. women moved up on the second run. Koznick, with the fifth-fastest second run, missed a top-5 result by .01, finishing in 1:43.88. Schleper’s time was 1:44.06 and Stiegler finished in 1:44.81.

“Two in the top 10, three in the top 20. It was good. I’m psyched,” said Coach Wolfi Erharter, who set the second course. “It got warmer in the second run but conditions were awesome. Organizers did a great job; the snow was so hard.”

He said the course was longer than usual, so there was more distance between gates “and it was not easy finding the right mix, the good rhythm. Maybe because it was my course they felt more comfortable on the second run, but they gave it full gas…they executed pretty good.”

Some of the top skiers from the first run — including Laure Pequegnot of France, and Tanja Poutiainen of Finland — skied out in their second run when they hit an icy patch on the course.

The women now head for Veysonnaz, Switzerland, and will race a downhill and super G Jan. 10-11; the races originally were scheduled for Feb. 14-15 in Santa Caterina, Italy, which will be one of the venues for the 2005 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships, but organizers said the course would not be ready, so they were shifted – and moved up a month – to Veysonnaz.