Feb. 8, 2005
SANTA CATERINA VALFURVA, Italy (AP by Erica Bulman)--Sweden's Anja Paerson successfully defended her giant slalom title Tuesday for her second gold medal at the Alpine World Championships. Julia Mancuso of the United States rallied to finish third and picked up her second bronze medal following last week's opening super giant slalom.
Paerson, the super-G winner, tore down the sun-drenched course in a two-run time of 2 minutes, 13.63 seconds. She had not won a giant slalom since the World Cup opener in October in Soelden, Austria.
``It is an unbelievably wonderful win for me,'' Paerson said. ``In the second run, I tried everything.'' Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, the World Cup overall and giant slalom leader, was the runner-up in 2:13.82. Mancuso, in seventh place after the first leg, was timed in 2:14.27.
``I liked the second run course a lot better,'' Mancuso said. ``The set was more my style.'' Janica Kostelic, the winner of the combined and downhill titles at the worlds, missed the race because of a cough and fever. The Croat still hopes to compete in Friday's slalom, team officials said. Paerson led after the opening run. She entered the second leg with the added advantage that her father and coach, Anders Paerson, set the course under rules in which job is rotated among coaches from race to race.
``Normally, this aggressive snow is not good for me,'' she said. ``So I just wanted to let the skis run, remain calm and on the edge and not stand too much.'' Slovenia's Tina Maze, the most exciting giant slalom racer this season, crashed during the opening leg, disappointing her many fans who traveled to the worlds. Maze has been inconsistent, winning three World Cup races and finishing outside the top 10 in the other three. She was plagued by a stomach bug that has hit many skiers and was unable to train for the giant slalom.
Germany's Martina Ertl climbed from sixth to fourth. Austria's Nicole Hosp, second after the opening leg, dropped to fifth. The Czech Republic's Sarka Zahrobska rallied from 23rd to 10th for her best giant slalom result.