St. Anton, Austria Feb. 2, 2001 (AP)--Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Austrian Renate Goetschl - who were 1-2 going into thefinal run of combined slalom Friday night at the World Championships - let a medal slip away as they failed to finish their secondrun and Martina Ertl of Germany grabbed the gold to complete a storybook recovery from early season injury.
Ertl's winning combined time was an unofficial 2:55.65 after a downhill and two runs of slalom. The silver medal went to unheraldedChristina Sponring of Austria (2:58.23) with Italian Karen Putzer collecting the bronze (2:58.69).
Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) finished ninth with Kirsten Clark (Raymond,ME) - the surprise leader after the downhill run - in 10thplace.
Lalive and Goetschl had a renewed opportunity for the win when pre-event favorite Janica Kostelic went down on her slalom run.Going into the final, lighted SL run, Goetschl held a .79 lead over Lalive with Ertl in third place.
After Ertl - who had been out of action since straining a ligament in her right knee in December in Semmering, Austria - laid down anearly flawless final run, Lalive skied out on the upper half of the course, which was set by Goetschl's coach. Then Goetschl, with a1.02-second bulge, started...and started losing time. She had just passed the second intermediate time - and her lead was down to.08 - when she straddled a gate. Ertl was the gold medalist...and after three races, the powerful Austrians still were without a goldmedal.
Lalive, the defending U.S. combined champion - and second to Kostelic in the lone World Cup combined event this winter - coveredthe first slalom run in 42.30 seconds, a course set by U.S. Coach Georg Capaul.
After the mid-day downhill run - led by Clark with Goetschl second - and the first run of slalom, Goetschl led in total time of2:09.10. Lalive was second in 2:09.89 and Ertl stood third with one run remaining (2:10.12).
Clark was eighth with one run remaining, her total time 2:12.63, while Mendes stood 12th (2:14.16).
Clark covered the downhill run in 1:25.85; the Carrabassett Valley Academy grad was 1996 U.S. combined champion and silvermedalist in '97. Goetschl, the last of the 26 racers and the reigning World Cup overall champion, came down in 1:26.04. Kostelic was11th, timed in 1:27.28; Thursday, Kostelic said she wanted to be within two seconds of Goetschl to have a shot at the gold medal inthe slalom, back half of the combined, so she was in good shape...until she went down on a lefthand turn high on the course.
Mendes was ninth in downhill with a 1:27.14 clocking. Lalive led over the top two sections of the run but had two mistakes inmid-race and lost time over the rest of the run. Her DH time was 1:27.59.
"This was a great course for me," said a smiling Clark in the DH finish area. "It was really hard snow, just like I'm used to skiing athome."
After the downhill, Lalive, who is racing with a sore right groin pull after a crash in the super G Monday, said, "I just couldn't holdmy line. I don't know what it was but I just couldn't hold my line."