HAFJELL, Norway (March 15 News Release) - Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) erased a lot of frustration from the season Saturday, producing the fastest second run to win the women's slalom at World Cup Finals and reconfirm in her own mind she's as fast as she thought she was. Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) had the sixth-fastest second run to finish 12th. In the men's giant slalom a short time later, Austrian Hans Knauss won with Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) tied for second and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) tied for sixth, clinching second place overall and in the GS standings, the best American man's showing in 20 years.
Outdoor Life Network will have same-day coverage from World Cup Finals Saturday starting at 4 p.m. EST in addition to its World Cup highlights program Thursday night at 10 EST.
With temperatures in the mid-30s, Koznick collected the sixth victory of her World Cup career with a two-run time of 1:45.67, edging Laure Pequegnot of France by .08. Schleper moved up to 12th place in 1:48.02.
"It's a really good way to end the season," the 27-year-old Koznick said. "This last month and all week Dan (Stripp, her coach) had been telling me, 'You're fast; don't change. You're fast and you can win. It's all about not changing what you're doing and if you make it down, you can win.' I know I've been skiing fast, but it's been tough.
KOZ: "I KNEW I WAS FAST, BUT..."
"It's so much about not being afraid to put everything on the line. I've been doing that all season and it's been blowing up in my face and it's like I was pretending it was right...but it was. I just laid everything on the line. I'm so happy."
A two-time Olympian, who was second in World Cup slalom standings a year ago (for the second time in her career) but whose best previous finish this winter had been seventh, was fourth in the first run. However, she tore through the final run to collect her first victory since Berchtesgaden, Germany, before the 2002 Olympics.
While she and Stripp changed her giant slalom technique this season to focusing on the next three gates of each run, rather than try to take in the entire course, slalom, she said, "is still all about speed.
"It's such a great thing not being afraid to put everything out there. The other coaches have been coming over to me — this is so cool — and telling me they weren't surprised. They'd watch me train, they knew I was going fast...so this reconfirms it for them, too."
GREAT CONDITIONS MADE RACE COURSE FAIR FOR ALL
"She was a little tentative on her first run," Stripp said, "but she let it go on the second run. Conditions were great, which made it a tight race."Koznick agreed. "The course was in great shape. The snow was hard and I think you could've won from anywhere, could've come from the back today, they were so perfect for everyone."
Miller, who made his World Cup breakthrough with Koznick during the 1998 season - she was fourth in slalom and he was 11th in his first World Cup, a GS, at the November '97 Chevy Truck America's Opening in Park City - called her victory "a great show. She's an outstanding slalom skier and it's nice she could finally get this win to end the season on an up note."
After the women's GS and men's slalom Sunday, U.S. skiers head to Lake Placid, NY, for the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships, which begin Thursday.
FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
World Cup Finals
Hafjell, NOR - March 15
1. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 1:45.67
2. Laure Pequegnot, France, 1:45.75
3. Marlies Schild, Austria, 1:45.90
4. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:46.80
5. Martina Ertl, Germany, 1:47.04
12. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 1:48.02
WORLD CUP STANDINGS
Women's Overall (32 races - 1 remaining)
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia - 1,570 points
2. Karen Putzer, Italy - 1,000
3. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 997
4. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 972
5. Ertl, 872
9. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 643
22. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 325
24. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, CA, 307
25. Schleper, 290
26. Koznick, 269
46. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 159
66. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 64
83T. Katie Monahan, Aspen, CO, 39
92T. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 24
106T. Alison Powers, Winter Park, CO, 8
110T. Bryna McCarty, Concord, VT, 6
118T. Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, CO, 3