Paerson Dominates Giant Slalom


ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Feb. 13, 2003 (AP by Nesha Starcevic)--Those victory belly flops could get painful at the rate Anja Paerson is going.

After easily winning the giant slalom title in the world championships Thursday, the 21-year-old Swede flopped on the snow, jumped up and swung her arms to encourage more applause.

With a combined time of 2 minutes, 30.97 seconds, Paerson finished a whopping 1.55 seconds ahead of runner-up Denise Karbon of Italy. Allison Forsyth of Canada was third, 1.79 back.

That was Paerson's fourth straight victory. She won the last two giant slaloms before the championships and also a slalom.

"I didn't really believe I would win the giant slalom by one and a half seconds," said Paerson, from Taernaby, a town inside the Arctic Circle that also is the home of Ingemar Stenmark.

Stenmark, who has a record 86 World Cup victories, watched the race and later congratulated Paerson.

"He said my second run was incredible," Paerson said. "It means a lot. I think he's the best skier in the world."

While the champion was anything but a surprise, the other medal winners certainly were. Neither Karbon nor Forsyth have ever won a race on the World Cup circuit.

Karbon's previous best in four years on the World Cup circuit was a third place in Austria just after Christmas.

"I really didn't expect to be on the podium," said Karbon, who earned Italy's first medal of the championship. "In giant slalom there are so many athletes who are so powerful and who have won races before."

Forsyth's bronze was the Canadian women's first medal in technical disciplines in 33 years, after Betsy Clifford won a giant slalom in 1970 in Val Gardena, Italy.

It also marked Canada's second medal here after the downhill gold won by Melanie Turgeon.

"It's Canada's best world championships ever," said the Nanaimo, British Columbia, native, referring to Canada's two medals and six top-10 results in St. Moritz.

"I think it's because of the temperatures. I don't think it's any coincidence the North Americans are doing so well. We're used to such temperatures and the cold, aggressive snow."

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