Aspen: Anja Paerson rallies to win slalom ahead of Kostelic


Aspen: Anja Paerson rallies to win slalom ahead of KostelicAnja Paerson made good on her promise.

After finishing second in yesterday’s GS, Paerson said she didn’t do her signature belly flop in the finish area because she didn’t win the race. “I promise if I win tomorrow, I will do it,” she added.

After a thrilling second run that saw Paerson make up more than a second on first-run leader Janica Kostelic, Paerson earned the win, and the right to hit the snow, belly first.

While her run was magnificient, the flop was not her best. “It hurt this time,” she said with a smile. “I had a new jacket. I’m going to take that one off [next time].”

Kostelic skied a near-flawless first run at the Sirius Satellite Radio Winternational in Aspen, Colorado, and had a commanding lead in the first slalom of the season. Kostelic laid down a first-run time of 48.27 seconds to take a 0.84 second lead over Austria’s Kathrin Zettel. Paerson sat in third.

But then Paerson unleashed the fastest second run, taking every gate on the boot tops without a major bobble.

“I was trying to make my run as quick as possible, to try to go for it as much as I could. I just wanted to try to come down and get the podium,” Paerson said.

Skiing with a huge lead on what she called “one of the most easy courses I’ve ever skied in my life,” Kostelic was steady, but visibly held onto her speed, taking no chances. It was a miscalculation by the Croatian star, if only by 0.03 seconds. She finished her second run in 47.77, 1.06 behind Paerson’s time, and good enough for second overall.

“I feel stupid for myself, she was one second behind … so I only have myself to blame,” she said, not wanting to discuss her second run at length.

Still Kostelic was pleased, in her own subdued way, to land in the top three in the first slalom of the year. “It’s just a race, and I’m on the podium, so I’m happy about it.”

Kostelic said she just can’t wait to get back to Europe, and called these races “good training.”

The small-framed Zettel showed she can hang with the big girls (both in size and stature) by registering her second consecutive podium. Zettel said her smaller size did not make much difference in slalom and GS. “Not in the technical disciplines,” she said. “maybe [more] in the speed disciplines.”

Last year’s slalom winner, Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, made an impressively athletic recovery to make it down her second run, but never really found the rhythm she had a year ago. Poutiainen finished ninth, almost two seconds back.

The Americans failed to register a top-10 finish for the second straight day. Kristina Koznick and Julia Mancuco led the charge once again, with Koznick in 14th and Mancuso in 19th.

“It’s pretty disappointing because obviously I would have liked to have won a World Cup in the U.S.,” an emotional Koznick said. Despite Koznick’s mediocre finish, a large group of Team Koz supporters, easily identifiable by their blue and pink Team Koz hats, had a merry time in the finish backing the Minnesota native.

A self-described slow starter, Mancuso is still finding her form. “I’d give myself a B plus,” she said. “I sort of came in here and I wasn’t feeling that confident that I could be on the podium in any of the races. I really was coming to ski my best and make it down and get a couple races under my belt so I can really push it next time.”

Lindsey Kildow also qualified for the second run, but skied out wide and had to climb the hill to finish. In an unlucky break for Kildow, she finished 30th, as every racer finished the second run.

“I told my tech to dull my skis back a little bit because first run they were too sharp,” Kildow said. “This run they were too dull, so I couldn’t catch a break. I’m skiing well, though, so I’m not that worried about it. Just gotta go out there and give it hell every day.”

Americans Kaylin Richardson and Lauren Ross each made costly mistakes and didn’t qualify for the second run. Richardson stumbled on a difficult rollover gate near the top of the first run. She then stepped on the gas and could have threatened the top 30 if not for skiing out again right above the finish.

“I think that we have a lot of depth,” Kildow said of her teammates. “Some of the younger girls aren’t coming through. They definitely have the potential and talent. It’s just a matter of putting down in the race.”

ASPEN NOTEBOOK: U.S. development team skier Sterling Grant made her first World Cup start, but went out only a few gates from the finish and did not qualify for the second run.

Also making her first World Cup start was American Jenny Lathrop. Lathrop banked in on the same gate that gave Richardson trouble and could not regain her balance quickly enough to stay in the course. She did not finish.

With her 403rd start, Germany’s Martina Ertl-Renz passed Anita Wachter for most career starts on the World Cup for a woman. “Yeah, that’s really many races. I’m proud of it,” Ertl-Renz said. “I’m so many years on the world circuit, in all events. It’s a special experience. What’s also important is I was for four years at the top of the World Cup. I’m still close to the podium. I hope for a podium place or a win this year.”

Norway’s Hedda Berntsen, former Middlebury College racer and bronze medalist at the 2001 World Championships, raced her first World Cup since deciding to return to the sport after a stint as a teacher. It’s her first World Cup start since December 2003. She didn’t qualify for the second run, finishing 36th.

Women’s slalom
Aspen, Colo.,
Dec. 11, 2005

1. Anja Paerson, SWE 1:36.01
2. Janica Kostelic, CRO 1:36.04
3. Kathrin Zettel, AUT 1:36.44
4. Laure Pequegnot, FRA 1:36.84
5. Annemarie Gerg, GER 1:37.39
6. Therese Borssen, SWE 1:37.50
7. Nicole Hosp, AUT 1:37.71
8. Chiara Costazza, ITA 1:37.80
9. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 1:37.95
10. Ana Jelusic, CRO 1:37.97
11. Florine DeLeymarie, FRA 1:38.08
12. Maria Pietilae, SWE 1:38.13
13. Michaela Kirchgasser, AUT 1:38.17
14. Kristina Koznick, USA 1:38.24
15. Henna Raita, FIN 1:38.25
16. Annalisa Ceresa, ITA 1:38.29
17. Martina Ertl-Renz, GER 1:38.46
18. Noriyo Hiroi, JPN 1:38.48
19. Julia Mancuso, USA 1:38.66
20. Nika Fleiss, CRO 1:38.71
21. Anna Ottosson, SWE 1:38.77
21. Manuela Moelgg, ITA 1:38.77
23. Sarka Zahrobska, CZE 1:38.83
24. Line Viken, NOR 1:39.13
25. Monika Bergmann, GER 1:39.30
26. Anne-Sophie Barthet, FRA 1:39.45
27. Nicole Gius, ITA 1:39.46
28. Elisabeth Goergl, AUT 1:40.11
29. Brigitte Acton, CAN 1:40.64
30. Lindsey Kildow, USA 1:42.84
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Lauren Ross, Kaylin Richardson, USA; Britt Janyk, CAN.
DNF 1st: Jenny Lathrop, Sterling Grant, USA; Anna Goodman, CAN.

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Women’s slalom, Aspen, Dec. 11, 2005

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Paerson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2. Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3. Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Pequegnot, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5. Gerg, Head/Lange/Marker
6. Borssen, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
8. Costazza, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
9. Poutiainen, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
10. Jelusic, Dynamic/Salomon/Atomic

Women’s slalom, Aspen, Colo., Dec. 11, 2005. … It is the seventh race of the women’s 34 race, two combined World Cup schedule. … It is the first of nine scheduled slaloms. … It is the final race of three at Aspen. … It is the first WC slalom at Aspen not held in November or March.

It is the 27th career victory for Anja Paerson, moving her into sole possession of sixth among women on the all-time victory list (behind Anne-Marie Moser-Proell 62, Vreni Schneider 55, Renate Goetschl 37, Hanni Wenzel 33, and Erika Hess 31). … It is her first win of the season, but h
er third podium. … It is her 16th career slalom win, fourth all time (behind Schneider 33, Hess 21 and Janica Kostelic 17). … It is her second win at Aspen, the first also in slalom Nov. 30, 2002. … She has been second at Aspen three times. … Paerson is 24 and lives in Monaco.

It is the 40th career podium for Janica Kostelic. … Her 27th in slalom. … It is her second podium, without a win, this season. … She owns six podiums from Aspen, including slalom wins in 2000 and 2004. … Kostelic is 23 from Zagreb.

It is the second career podium for Kathrin Zettel. … In two days. … She finished 27th in slalom at Aspen last season. … Zettel is 19 from Goestling.

Chiara Costazza of Italy claimed just her second World Cup score in eighth place in a dozen World Cup starts. … She has DNF’d 16 of her last 40 starts. … It was the first scoring of the season for 12 skiers.

Kristina Koznick led the U.S. skiers in 14th. … She has placed third in slalom at Aspen twice, 2000 and 2004. … It is her best result of the season in three scoring finishes. … Ninteenth is the sixth-best slalom result of Julia Mancuso’s career. … She has scored in six of the seven races held to date. … It is the ninth career scoring result from Brigitte Acton. … Her second in slalom. … She has scored three times this season. …It is the fifth career scoring result in slalom for Lindsey Kildow.

Michaela Dorfmeister (did not race) maintains the World Cup overall standings lead 334-262 over Paerson. … Alexandra Meissnitzer (did not race) holds third at 260. … Kildow is the top American in overall standings in fifth at 222. … It is the first slalom of the women’s season, so the race results double as the slalom standings, Paerson 100, Kostelic 80 and Zettel 60. … Winning margin is three-hundredths. … Top four are within the same second. … Top 10 within two seconds.

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