Slovenia's Kunc Wins Slalom Race

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Yong Pyong, South Korea Feb. 27 (AP)--Mitja Kunc, continuing Slovenia's recent victory splurge, overtook first-run leader Ole Kristian Furuseth of Norway to win a men's World Cup slalom Sunday.

Kunc, whose best previous results in an 11-year career were seconds in giant slaloms in 1994 and 1995, completed two runs down the Rainbow course in 1 minute, 31.97 seconds.

Furuseth, the 1998 Yongpyong winner who led the first run by a 10th of a second, was runner-up in 1:32.70.

Mario Matt of Austria, who made it to the second run only after a video review of his first run, took the other spot on the podium in 1:32.97.

Matt was originally disqualified for missing a gate in the first run, but judges reinstated him after reviewing videotape and determining that he had made all of the 55 gates.

Erik Schlopy of Park City, Utah, had his best result since rejoining the World Cup after three years on the pro tour. Starting 42nd, Schlopy was 10th after the first run and improved to a final placing of ninth in 1:33.77.

It was the best American slalom placing of the season, surpassing the 10th in Wengen, Switzerland, last month by Sacha Gros of Vail, Colo.

The icy, rock-hard course, bathed in sunshine throughout, favored late starters. Kunc started 20th and Mario Reiter of Austria, the fourth-place finisher, started 29th.

Notable for his absence was Austria's Hermann Maier, the runaway leader in the World Cup overall standings. Maier seldom skis slalom and he felt it wasn't worth the trip to South Korea just to ski in a giant slalom. He turned out to be right, because he retained comfortable leads in the overall and GS standings.

Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway, the only skier with a mathematical chance of catching Maier in the overall chase, was 14th in Sunday's slalom and added just 18 points to his total. He has 1,260 points, 310 behind Maier with nine races remaining.

Aamodt had the consolation of adding to his lead in the slalom standings. His chief challenger, Slovenia's Matjaz Vrhovnik, had his worst race of the season, placing 16th, his first finish outside the top 10 in nine slaloms this season.

Last weekend, Vrhovnik won his first-ever World Cup race while, on the women's side, Slovenia's Spela Pretnar won a women's slalom, her third straight and fourth this season.

Kunc set the stage for Sunday's victory with a fourth place in Saturday's giant slalom, won by Austria's Benjamin Raich.

Although he didn't win, Furuseth added to a fine record in the Far East. The podium was his sixth in the area and second in South Korea. He won the inaugural Yongpyong slalom two years ago.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press