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Ofterschwang: Rienda Contreras wins second GS of the season

Ofterschwang: Rienda Contreras wins second GS of the season{mosimage}OFTERSCHWANG, Germany – Maria Jose Rienda of Spain won her second giant slalom of the season Friday to establish herself as one of the Olympic favorites.

Rienda had the fastest time in both runs to win in 2 minutes, 19.52 seconds, a week before the Torino Games starts. She was .64 ahead of Sweden’s Anja Paerson, with Austrian Kathrin Zettel third in 1:11.02.

”I’m feeling good and I will try to feel the same at the Olympics,” Rienda Contreras said. ”I’m skiing so well — I think it was perfect today.”

The 30-year-old Rienda Contreras won her fourth career race, all coming during the past two seasons. She picked up her second win this season in Aspen, Colorado.

The veteran Spaniard, sixth in the giant slalom at the last Olympics, became the first skier to win the discipline twice this season. The five previous races had produced five different winners.

”She can take the favorite role, I don’t mind. She is skiing very well right now,” Paerson said. ”In giant slalom, we really have a tight top — a lot of girls are skiing well.”

Paerson is the world champion and tops the giant slalom season standings, ahead of Janica Kostelic.

The Swede came down the second run a huge .84 seconds ahead of Zettel and appeared poised to win her 32nd World Cup race.

But Rienda Contreras, the last racer left, turned on the speed in the middle of a course covered with icy snow — the fastest part — to eclipsed Paerson’s time.

”I think I beat her in only one place today — the start,” Paerson said. ”She beat the heck out of me everywhere else.”

Triple Olympic gold medalist Janica Kostelic was 14th after two mistake-riddled runs.

Like Kostelic, her longtime rival, Paerson is a threat to win several golds at the Olympics. Both have recorded World Cup wins this season in all four major disciplines.

Paerson planned to skip the World Cup to concentrate on Torino, then changed her mind when a giant slalom canceled at Maribor, Slovenia, was added to give Ofterschwang three races.

The 24-year-old, who is still chasing her first Olympic gold, also wanted to test her form in the slalom and giant slalom after the women’s tour recently went through a series of speed races.

”I’m feeling good about my racing,” said Paerson, who won a super G last weekend. ”Right now I’m trying to get in a rhythm.”

Americans Julia Mancuso was 10th, Kristina Koznick was 25th and Sarah Schleper was 30th.

‘On this hill, it was a good day, especially for ‘Schlep.’ Her first run was awesome and it shows where she can be now’ said head tech coach Trevor Wagner. ‘The top is all flat and cruising, about 50 seconds, and Schlep skied it beautifully. She didn’t over-ski it, which would be easy; she just had a nice touch. And Libby [Ludlow, DNQ second run] had a good run going until she messed up on the transition onto the last pitch; she was mid-20s at the last split before her problem.’

Schleper, who returned last month after back surgery, was 19th in the first run but missed a gate during her second run and hiked to finish 30th.

‘We’ve got another crack at it tomorrow, which is kind of a luxury’ Wagner said. ‘We don’t normally get to race twice on the same hill, so we’re looking to learn from our mistakes and do better.’

The race was a makeup from Maribor, Slovenia, a month ago. The women run GS again Saturday and finish their pre-Olympic schedule Sunday with a slalom.

Women’s giant slalom
Ofterschwang, Germany
Feb. 3, 2006

1. Marie Jose Rienda Contreras, SPA 2:19.52
2. Anja Paerson, SWE 2:20.16
3. Kathrin Zettel, AUT 2:20.36
4. Nicole Hosp, AUT 2:20.68
5. Anna Ottosson, SWE 2:20.89
6. Nadia Fanchini, ITA 2:20.93
7. Tina Maze, SLO 2:20.99
8. Allison Forsyth, CAN 2:21.14
9. Michaela Kirchgasser, AUT 2:21.18
10. Julia Mancuso, USA 2:21.30
11. Genevieve Simard, CAN 2:21.34
12. Andrea Fischbacher, AUT 2:21.52
13. Marlies Schild, AUT 2:21.72
14. Janica Kostelic, CRO 2:21.75
15. Karen Putzer, ITA 2:21.87
15. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 2:21.87
17. Michaela Dorfmeister, AUT 2:22.37
18. Christina Lustenberger, CAN 2:22.49
19. Maria Pietilae-Holmner, SWE 2:22.56
20. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, SWE 2:22.58
21. Martina Ertl-Renz, GER 2:22.59
22. Alexandra Meissnitzer, AUT 2:22.98
23. Kathrin Hoelzl, GER 2:22.89
24. Sarka Zahrobska, CZE 2:23.01
25. Kristina Koznick, USA 2:23.11
26. Carolin Fernsebner, GER 2:23.17
27. Ana Jelusic, CRO 2:23.24
27. Brigitte Acton, CAN 2:23.24
29. Annemarie Gerg, GER 2:23.67
30. Sarah Schleper, USA 2:33.34
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Libby Ludlow, Kaylin Richardson, Kristen Mielke, Lauren Ross, Jessica Kelley, USA; Sophie Splawinski, Britt Janyk, CAN.

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment

Women’s GS, Ofterschwang, Feb. 3, 2006
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Rienda Contreras, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2. Paerson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3. Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
5. Ottosson, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia
6. Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
7. Maze, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8. Forsyth, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9. Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Mancuso, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol

Women’s giant slalom, Ofterschwang, Germany, Feb. 3, 2006. It is the 25th event of the women’s 34 race, two combined World Cup schedule. … It is the sixth of nine scheduled GS’s. … The race had originally been scheduled Jan. 7 at Maribor, Slovenia, and was rescheduled due to rain and soft snow. … It is the only World Cup race of the season to have been rescheduled this season. … One more woman’s GS remains on the schedule before the Olympics, set for Ofterschwang Feb. 4.

It is the fourth career win for Maria Jose Rienda Contreras. … All in GS. … Her second win of the season after Aspen Dec. 10. … It is the ninth Spanish win in World Cup history.

It is the 64th career podium for Anja Paerson. … Her 26th in GS. … It is her ninth podium of the season, fourth in GS. … She has won the World Cup overall title in each of the last two seasons. … She was second in last season’s GS standings.

It is the fifth career podium for Kathrin Zettel. … All from this season. … She has completed 10 races this season, all of them top-six results. … It is her third podium of the season in GS. … She has also been fourth in two GS’s.

It is the 21st career top eight for Allison Forsyth. … Her second this season. … She was also fourth in GS at Cortina Jan. 29. … It is the 25th career top 10 for Julia Mancuso. … Her eighth of the season. … Her fifth in a row since Jan. 22. … It is the 18th top 11 career finish for Genevieve Simard. … Her sixth of the season. … She is coming off her best result of the season, second in GS at Cortina Jan. 29. … It is the first career scoring effort for Christina Lustenberger. … She is 21 from Invermere, B.C. … It is the 10th scoring result of the season for Kristina Koznick. … Her fifth in GS. … It is the sixth scoring result of the season for Brigitte Acton. … Sarah Schleper did not earn points in the 30th position as she was nearly 14 seconds off the pace.

Janica Kostelic (14th in race) maintains the lead in the women’s World Cup overall standings 1282-1044 over Michaela Dorfmeister (17th in race). … Anja Paerson is third at 1021. … Lindsey Kildow (did not race) is the top American in the overall standings in fifth with 683 points. … Paerson leads the GS standings 405-324 over Kostelic. … Maria Jose Rienda Contreras is third at 305. … Genevieve Simard is the top North American in seventh with
177 points. … Julia Mancuso is the top American in 15th with 121 points. … Winning margin is .64 of a second. … Top three are within the same second. … 12th place is exactly two seconds out.

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