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Zwiesel, Germany Feb. 8 — For the second straight day Sunday, World Cup leader Anja Paerson of Sweden won and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) turned-in her best result in more than three years. Schleper, leading three U.S. women into the top 10 (five in the top 25), finished fourth while Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) – in her final race before the World Alpine Junior Championships – produced her first top-10, finishing eighth, and Kristina Koznick (Eagan, MN) was 10th.
Paerson swept both races on the weekend for the third time this season; she previously won at the Chevy Truck America’s Opening giant slalom and SL in Park City, Utah, plus Jan. 24-25 in Maribor, Slovenia. Her winning time was 1:29.58 with German Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer second (1:30.02).
Schleper, 11th in the first run, got her second top-5 in 24 hours as she finished in 1:30.64 for her best slalom showing since Jan. 26, 2001 in Ofterschwang, Germany. Organizers in this section of the Arber region near the Czech border also created their own combined calculation for the weekend — and Schleper came in second behind Paerson for the GS/SL tally, picking up a gift certificate for crystal glassware; Zwiesel is the area which produces the crystal globes awarded by the International Ski Federation for World Cup champions.
Schleper: “Probably my best weekend ever…”
Stiegler, 19th in the first run, survived a mid-run wins gust that kicked up swirling snow and skied fourth fastest on the final run as she moved up 11 places with a total time of 1:31.07. In the final race in the Arber region near the Czech border, Koznick was timed in 1:31.30.
“This is probably my best weekend ever, in terms of results,” Schleper said. “I’ve been training slalom pretty fast…”
Schleper, a two-time U.S. slalom champion, said, “It was pretty rough snow again today but I’m pretty smooth when conditions are rough. I’m not sure why but I think it just suits my style.”
She credited team physical therapist Christa Riepe with helping her deal with a tight back before the race, loosening muscles so Schleper could race. “And Mully (waxing tech John Mulligan) gave me super-fast skis…”
“It’s been a long time since we had three in the top 10 in a slalom,” said Head Coach Patrick Riml. “The conditions were tough, too. The snow got bumpy and was rutted, and it was windy at times, too. Resi got hit at the bottom pretty good with the wind.”
Stiegler, Kildow, Mancuso skiing well before WJCs
He added, “We had good training last week and Sarah skied well. She’ll take some time off now then be ready to go again…and the young ones go to race at World Juniors.”
Stiegler’s first World Cup top-10 “was outstanding. Resi made a good move toward World Cup Finals (i.e., the top 25 in points) and is skiing solid now. Lindsey qualifying is outstanding and Julia had an okay first run but she never found the rhythm on her second run.” He added, “And Kaylin (Richardson – Edina, MN, who missed qualifying by .2) skied well, too; she just needs to clean-up a couple of small things…but those four gives us a strong team for World Juniors.”
Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO), who had the sixth-fastest second run, 19th and Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) 25th. Stiegler, Mancuso and Kildow – all of whom collected medals a year ago – left after the slalom for World Juniors in Maribor. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday night. A year ago, Mancuso won super G gold and downhill bronze; Kildow was silver medalist in DH; Stiegler was bronze medalist in slalom and combined.
The women have a two-week break before resuming action Feb. 21-22 with a super G and GS in the lead-up to World Cup Finals March 10-14 in the 2006 Olympic region — at Sestriere and Sansicario, Italy.
In an unrelated announcement, the U.S. Ski Team said Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) — injured Jan. 30 in a World Cup downhill crash in Haus, Austria – would undergo surgery Friday by Dr. Terry Orr in South Lake Tahhoe, Calif., for repair of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. She underwent surgery immediately after the race for a broken right wrist; U.S. Medical Director Melinda Roalstad said it appeared Clark would not need surgery on the partially torn medical collateral ligament in right knee, which is being stabilized in a brace.