HAFJELL, Norway (AP)–Kristina Koznick’s first World Cup victory of the season provided the incentive to continue. Bode Miller’s sixth-place finish cost him the giant slalom overall title.
Koznick used a sizzling second run to win the final slalom of the season Saturday, her sixth career World Cup victory and first since winning at Berchtesgaden, Germany, last season.
The 27-year-old from Burnsville, Minn., had a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.67 seconds on the Olympia course, site of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
“It’s great; it’s really unexpected,” said Koznick, who was fastest second run on the 61-gate course. “It’s like a dream. I’m so happy. I had a terrible season … I broke my finger and had two different surgeries.”
Miller, 17th after the first run, tied for sixth place in the final giant slalom of the season and finished second to Switzerland’s Michael von Gruenigen in the discipline’s standings.
Miller trailed von Gruenigen by 97 points and needed a victory to have any chance of winning the title. He finished tied with Finland’s Kalle Palander, 0.90 behind winner Hans Knauss of Austria.
Koznick, who won her first World Cup slalom in 1998, finished in the points in five of the previous eight slalom races this season. Her best finish was a sixth at Maribor, Slovenia, in late January.
“I’ve been skiing well and training very well, but I had not finished in some of the last races,” said Koznick, 0.13 behind the leader after one run. “I started thinking if I should be doing this at all.”
“In the middle of the season I had a conversation with my coach that maybe I should retire. But today’s win gives me confidence to continue. That’s what I needed.”
France’s Laure Pequegnot finished second, 0.08 back. Austria’s Marlies Schild, who led after the first run, was third, 0.23 back.
Janica Kostelic of Croatia, the overall champion who had already won the slalom championship, fell with three gates left of the second run and didn’t finish.
Kostelic won five races and led the slalom standings with 710 points. Sweden’s Anja Paerson was second with 498 points. Koznick finished 11th with 212 points.
American Sarah Schleper finished 12th.
Knauss had a two-run time of 2:20.83 to win the giant slalom. Benjamin Raich, the 2001 World Cup slalom champion, finished second, 0.54 back, and von Gruenigen, 0.62 off the winning pace, won his second title with a third-place finish.
The 33-year-old von Gruenigen, skiing the last giant slalom of his 15-year career, topped the standings with 542 points. Miller had 425 points, and Knauss was third with 365.
“It was a very emotional day for me,” von Gruenigen said. “I knew this was my last race and I wanted to finish well. It’s a good way to end my career on top.”
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press