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Vidal Takes Kranjska Gora SL


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Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Dec. 24, 2001–Jean Pierre Vidal of France turned-in a nearly flawless second run Saturday that lifted him from fourth place to his first World Cup victory in a slalom. Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) was 17th with Sacha Gros (Vail, CO) 25th in deteriorating conditions.

Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the race Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. EST.

Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), missing a chance to gain ground on World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria who doesn’t normally ski slalom, had a sizzling run underway, posting the fastest top split before he hit a gate and went down on the lower portion of the course that also claimed defending World Cup SL champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, who won Friday’s giant slalom in Kranjska Gora.

Vidal’s winning, two-run time was 1:42.48, three-quarters of a second ahead of SL world champion Mario Matt of Austria. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who won the first slalom at the Chevy Truck Aspen (Colo.) Winternational in late November, was third with a time of 1:43.40.

Schlopy’s time was 1:44.86 and Gros, who started No. 50 and tied for 30th in the first run, moved up to 25th for his first World Cup points of the season in 1:45.19.

“Bode had a helluva run going,” SL/GS Head Coach Jesse Hunt said, “but the course tightened up just as he was picking up speed on a pitch. There were three tight gates and he got caught up in there, just like Raich. It was a pretty tough spot and they were both carrying a lot of speed.”

Schlopy has struggled early this season, “so he was pleased to get to the finish line. …and it was really good to see Sacha fight his way in there. He battled all the way.”

Race conditions were tough, he said, because of the continual tricky visibility — “It’s always flat light in Kranjska because of the way the mountain sits,” according to Hunt — and unraveling conditions. Still, four skiers from outside the first 50 starters broke into the second run. “The times were really spread out, so there were opportunities,” he said, noting, among others, Canadian Jean Philippe Roy started No. 66 and finished ninth.

The men take a holiday break before resuming Dec. 29 with a downhill in Bormio, Italy, and then another slalom and GS Jan. 5-6 in Adelboden, Switzerland. U.S. gate-runners compete Dec. 29-30 in the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup GS and slalom on the Olympic courses at Park City Mountain Resort (GS) and Snowbasin (slalom) with $10,000 and an automatic Olympic berth to the winner. “Those should be fun races,” Hunt said. “The guys will be fired-up to get that Olympic spot, and the money won’t hurt, either.”

Kranjska Gora, SLO
Men’s Slalom
1. Jean Pierre Vidal, France, 1:42.48
2. Mario Matt, Austria, 1:43.23
3. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:43.40
4. Mitja Kunc, Slovenia, 1:43.78
5. Pierrick Bourgeat, France, 1:43.86

17. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah, 1;44.86
25. Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo., 1:45.19

Did not qualify for 2nd run: Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt.; Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash.
DNF-1: Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H.; Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.
Cafe de Colombia World Cup
Men’s Overall (13 races)
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 580 points
2. Miller, 420
3. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 374
4. Frederic Covili, France, 333
5. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 323

51. Schlopy, 51
64. Puckett, 34
70. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 31
76. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y., 23
107. (tie) Gros and Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, 6 each
112. Marco Sullivan, Tahoe City, Calif., 4
113. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 3