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Nef Claims GS, Schleper 12th


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Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 16, 2001–Sonja Nef of Switzerland, the reigning world titlist, claimed her first World Cup giant slalom victory of the season, while American Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) showed signs of returning to last season’s fine form Sunday with an encouraging 12th place.

The event will be broadcast by OLN on Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. EST.

Nef used the second-round’s fastest time en route to defeating Anja Paerson of Sweden by .66 seconds. Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria, the current overall World Cup leader, was third in 2:24.46.

Current World Cup overall titlist Janica Kostelic of Croatia, competing for the first time this season, crashed early in the first run and limped off the course. Kostelic, who’s recovered from a knee injury, suffered hip and shoulder injuries, but did not re-injure her knee.

Schleper, 22, a former slalom national titlist and the reigning giant slalom national champion, had the seventh-fastest first run en route to her 2:25.57 overall time and bolstered the two U.S. women finishing in the top 20. She had two top-10 World Cup giant slalom performances last season, including third place in Semmering, Austria. Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) placed 19th in 2:28.82.

The 10th World Cup event of the season was held in ideal conditions – blue skies, cold weather and hard snow, according to women’s head alpine coach Marian Cernigoj.

“She (Sarah) had a absolutely fabulous first run,” said Cernigoj. “It was encouraging to see her return to the way she can ski. Her second run was strong, but it just wasn’t as aggressive as the first run.”

Although Schleper and Koznick were the only two U.S. finishers, Jonna Mendes (Heavenly Valley, CA) also was en route to a probable top-20 finish during her first run, according to Cernigoj. But after her second intermediate time, Mendes had to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting a course technician. Mendes was given a rerun, but was unable to qualify.

“I had good feeling coming here,” said Schleper, who placed 22nd in slalom at the 1998 Winter Olympics. “And the good feeling just continued throughout the day.”

Women’s Giant Slalom
Val d’Isere, France – Dec. 16
1. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 2:23.80
2. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 2:24.46
3. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 2:24.63
4. Andrine Flemmen, Norway, 2:24.67
5. Allison Forsythe, Canada, 2:24.84

12. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 2:25.57
19. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn., 2:26.82
DNF (first run) – Kirsten Clark, Squaw Valley, Calif.
DNQ (first run) – Jonna Mendes, Heavenly Valley, Calif., Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Tatum Skoglund, Bellevue, Wash.

Giant Slalom Standings
(After 3 events)
1. Nef, 240
2. Dorfmeister, 196
3. Forsythe, 175
4. Flemmen, 161
5. Paerson, 109

24. Clark, 29
25. Koznick, 28
27. Schleper, 26

Overall Standings
(After 10 events)
1. Dorfmeister, 416
2. Nef, 300
3. Isolde Kostner, Italy, 273
4. Hilde Greg, Germany, 215
5. Paerson, Sweden, 209

20. Lalive, 113
23. Clark, 105
24. Koznick, 100
27. Picabo Street, Park City, Utah, 85
43. Mendes, 43
54. Schleper, 37
67. Katie Monahan, Aspen, Colo., 20