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Flachau, Austria, Jan. 16, 2001–The math was pretty basic for the resurgent Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO): a seventh indownhill and a sixth in slalom equal a second in combined, the second World Cup podium of her career.
For the weekend, Lalive – who got a new boot setting from slalom/GS Head Coach Georg Capaul and a new technician two weeks agofor her downhill and super G skis – quadrupled the number of top-10s in her career. She became the fifth U.S. alpine ski racer toreach a podium this season, following Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) andKristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN).
“Just incredible. With the exception of her combined second last season Santa Caterina, Italy, Caroline never had been top-10 andnow she had four top-10s in two days,” said Head Coach Marjan Cernigoj. “What a show ‘Liner’ put on this weekend. She wasunbelievable,” said Capaul
“Kind of a whole makeover…”
“I’m very, very pleased,” she said. “It was kind of a whole makeover. This is like a new lease on life.”
Lalive, who struggled in the first six weeks of the season, completed a weekend eruption Sunday as she collected her fourth top-10in 24 hours. The scorecard: Saturday – seventh in downhill and seventh in super G, too; Sunday – sixth in slalom, which added up tosecond place in the first women’s combined calculation of the season.
Janica Kostelic of Croatia continued her unbeaten ways in slalom as she collected her sixth victory of the season, mauling the icycourse to win in 1:35.94 with Austrian Karen Koellerer and Laura Pequegnot of France deadlocked for a distant second at 1:37.50.Lalive was tied for 14th in the first run and jumped into sixth place at 1:38.37 with an attacking second run; Koznick was 11th in1:38.91.
“Kostelic is just in a completely different class from everyone. She’s by herself,” Capaul said. The Croatian, who turned just 19 inJan. 5, had been 27th Saturday in the downhill, 1.19 seconds behind Lalive in seventh place behind Austrian Renate Goetschl.
Chasing first U.S. combined win since ’76
Until Kostelic, who had just a two-hundredths margin over Pequegnot in the first run of slalom, overwhelmed the course, it lookedlike Lalive would pickup the first combined win by a U.S. woman since Cindy Nelson at Meiringen, Switzerland, in 1976. But thesecond run by Kostelic – who went out before midseason a year ago with a ligament injury to her right knee – erased thatopportunity.
“It was negative 15 Celsius – 5 F.. It was freezing and the snow was just a sheet of ice,” Lalive said. “We’ve had to be especiallyversatile this season with the snow; it’s always been changing, but this was hard and icy.”
Lalive stayed in Europe during the Christmas-New Year’s holidays. She and her sister visited their father’s family in the Geneva area(she grew up skiing near Gstaad) and then they celebrated New Year’s in Salzburg, Austria, taking in Mozart to balance thefrustration of her first part of the season. When she got back on skis, Lalive said, Capaul changed the canting of her boots and thewaxing technician for Goetschl – the defending World Cup champion – agreed to handle Lalive’s DH/SG skis.
Big confidence boost
“George spotted the boot thing,” Lalive said. “What I was trying wasn’t working and now it’s all coming together.
“When I was beating my head against the wall, it was completely demoralizing,” but the weekend’s performance(s) “just reaffirmsthat I can do it” as a four-event skier, she said.
Cernigoj and Capaul agreed. “You watch – her GS is going to come around, too,” Capaul said. “Cernigoj added, “It was tough to watchher earlier this season because Caroline is such a talent, but now things seem to be more in place. What a weekend!”
After a celebration Sunday night, Lalive planned to take two days off and then get ready for a DH/super G/GS weekend Jan. 19-21 inCortina, Italy, the final weekend before the staart of the alpine World Championships Jan. 28-Feb. 10 in St. Anton, Austria.
The 200 points for the twin victories – slalom and combined – enabled Kostelic to reclaim the World Cup overall points lead.Goetschl, the defending World Cup champion who won Saturday’s downhill, was 19th in the slalom and finished third in the combinedtally.
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Flachau, AUT – Jan. 14
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:35.94
2. (tie) Karin Koellerer, Austria, and Laura Pequegnot, France, 1:37.50
4. Urska Hrovat, Slovenia, 1:37.84
5. Hedda Berntsen, Norway, 1:38.08
6. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1:38.37
7. Spela Pretnar, Slovenia, 1:38.69
8. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:38.72
9. Christina Sponring, Austria, 1:38.86
10. Alenka Dovzan, 1:38.87
11. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 1:38.91
Did not qualify for 2nd run: Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, and Tasha Nelson, Mound, MN
Combined calculation (Saturday DH/Sunday SL)
3. Renate Goetschl, Austria