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Park City, UT (AP by Bob Baum) — Janica Kostelic won the women’s slalom Wednesday through a heavy snowfall, her second gold and third overall medal of the Salt Lake City Games.
Kostelic, who won the combined event and captured silver in the super giant slalom last week, has a chance in Friday’s giant slalom to become the first person with four Alpine medals in one Olympics.
There were only three Alpine events until 1988, when the super giant slalom debuted and the combined event was reintroduced.
The 20-year-old Croatian already has three more medals than the entire U.S. women’s Alpine team, which is virtually ensured of its first medal shutout since the 1988 Calgary Games.
Kristina Koznick, the last realistic chance for an Alpine medal by an American woman, crashed on the first run of the slalom Wednesday morning.
Koznick, a Minnesotan who came into the race as the second-best slalomer on the World Cup circuit this season, slipped with five gates remaining sending her right ski high in the air.
She fell and slipped down the course, then slumped on the fresh snow in disappointment for several seconds before skiing to the bottom of the course and sitting on her skis in the finish area.
“My coach told me I’d be crying today either way, whether I did good or I did bad,” she said through tears. “Unfortunately, these aren’t the kind of tears I wanted.”
Koznick said the fresh snow and warm temperature prevented the course from fully freezing overnight, leaving it choppy for the race.
“It was really rough. It felt like that the whole way down,” she said. “Oh my gosh, it was like I was on a bull, it was like a rodeo.”
Kostelic, who missed the first month of the World Cup season while recovering from three offseason operations on her left knee, finished the two runs in 1 minute, 46.10 seconds.
Laure Pequegnot of France was second, 0.07 seconds behind Kostelic. Anja Paerson of Sweden won the bronze.
Sarah Schleper of the United States, who has had several top-10 finishes on the World Cup circuit this season, lost a ski about two-thirds of the way down the first run and did not finish.
The only top-10 finish so far by a U.S. woman in four Alpine events is Lindsey Kildow’s sixth place in the combined event. Even U.S. women’s coach Marjan Cernigoj said a medal in Friday’s giant slalom is unlikely.
Koznick’s fall Wednesday also extended a dubious streak for American women. They have not won an Olympic medal in the slalom since 1972.
Both runs were held in a steady snow and the course was extremely difficult and slippery. Among those who did not finish the first run was medal contender Christel Pascal-Saioni of France.
Pascal-Saioni hit a gate near the top of the course and lost her left ski pounding her right fist into the snow in anger.
February 20, 2002, Deer Valley, UT
1. Janica Kostelic, CRO, 1:46.10
2. Laure Pewuegnot, FRA, 1:46.17
3. Anja Paerson, SWE, 1:47.09
4. Ylva Nowen, SWE, 1:47.18
5. Martina Ertl, GER, 1:47.82
32. Lindsey C. Kildow, USA, 2:00.73
DNF: Kristina Koznick, USA
DNF: Sarah Schleper, USA
DNF: Tasha Nelson, USA