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Maribor: Kostelic rests hand as soft snow scraps GS

Maribor: Kostelic rests hand as soft snow scraps GS{mosimage}MARIBOR, Slovenia – Janica Kostelic got another day to nurse her swollen right hand before she resumes her quest to beat Sweden’s Anja Paerson for the overall World Cup title.

A giant slalom race in Maribor, Slovenia, was called off Saturday because warm weather led to the snow being dangerously soft. Organizers are hoping to fix the course in time for a Sunday slalom, then reschedule the giant slalom race for the following day.

“It’s OK, I can ski with this hand,” Kostelic said. “My hand is pretty good — better than yesterday. I can hold the pole now.”

Kostelic’s hand is still being rubbed with salves to reduce swelling after she sustained the injury during Thursday’s slalom in Zagreb.

There, Kostelic thrilled her home crowd of 25,000 by finishing third despite losing her pole and glove at the start of the second run. She could barely move her fingers after her bare hand slapped the gates all the way down the slope.

Kostelic, who leads the standings ahead of longtime rival Paerson, is already looking ahead to the Winter Olympics, starting Feb. 10, but the Croatian isn’t predicting a repeat of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City where she claimed three golds.

“My goal this time is one gold medal,” Kostelic said.

Kostelic has 652 points in the overall standings, compared with Paerson’s 585. The Swede won the season honors last year, edging her rival by three points.

In the giant slalom standings, Paerson leads 285 to 270 over Kostelic with three races left in the discipline before the Olympics.

Rain over the past few days, along with rising temperatures, led to the soft snow on Saturday. Despite some protests, many racers agreed the conditions were too risky.

They included Lindsey Kildow, the American leading the downhill standings. She posted a career-best ninth in giant slalom last year in Maribor.

“I was really looking forward to the race, because I know I can do well on this hill,” Kildow said. “But I really wouldn’t want to compromise my health by racing in conditions like today.”

Organizers said the Maribor giant slalom will be held, perhapds Monday, if Sunday’s slalom takes place.

With colder weather forecast, they are confident the snow on the Snezni slope can be hardened enough to hold the race. Among other methods, they will water the slope and hope it freezes.

“Tomorrow’s slalom is going to be icy,” said Filip Gartner, the world skiing body’s snow inspector.

The American team can now concentrate on the slalom first. The giant slalom has been the squad’s weakest discipline this year.

- The Associated Press

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