Spindleruv Mlyn: Anja Paerson wins slalom as World Cup goes on holiday break


Spindleruv Mlyn: Anja Paerson wins slalom as World Cup goes on holiday breakAnja Paerson of Sweden won the Spindleruv Mlyn slalom on Thursday, beating Janica Kostelic of Croatia in the second World Cup slalom of the season. Paerson and Kostelic, who have long maintained a friendship and rivalry, did their signature finish line antics to celebrate their 1-2 finish: Paerson did her walrus-like ‘belly slide’ and Kostelic did a series of cartwheels. Paerson tried the cartwheels too.

‘I had luck with the start number, the snow got really bad really quick’ said Paerson, the reigning overall World Cup champion. ‘I was lucky with the draw yesterday but first run was a really good one. I never see myself so tight with boots on the snow, I didn’t know I could go like that.’

Paerson said she was happy to rest her legs, which happen to be enormously strong. Her father and coach, Anders Paerson, who set the first run, would not disclose how much she can squat during weightlifting sessions, he said, because “it would be bad for the youngsters to find out.”

Paerson, who also won the first race, at Aspen on Dec. 12.. ‘I really care about the World Cup’ this year’ she said. ‘I know the most important thing is to do well in the Olympics’ said Paerson.

At 24, Paerson has now won 28 World Cup races. She is an all-around threat; last year, the Swede won four World Cup races one in each discipline. She hails from Tarnaby, the same remote town that is home to 86-time World Cup winner Ingemar Stenmark.

She and Kostelic were well ahead of the field Paerson 49 hundredths of a second ahead of Kostelic, who was another 0.78 ahead of the third-place finisher, Marlies Schild of Austria.

Five Americans qualified for the second run at the Czech resort, and each finished the day in the top 20. They were Julia Mancuso (ninth place), Kristina Koznick 10th, Resi Stiegler 13th, Lindsey Kildow 14th and Kaylin Richardson 17th.

The two other Americans in the race were Jenni Lathrop and Lauren Ross. Lathop was 42nd and Ross 50th on the first run, so neither qualified for the second run.

While the women were racing in Spindleruv Mlyn, the men were in Kranjska Gora for a slalom (Giorgio Rocca was the winner). The Slovenian resort is a mainstay on the men’s World Cup calendar that has hosted races since the late 1960s. The town is home to a fancy casino. Bode Miller won giant slaloms here in both 2003 and 2004, but last year he lost a ski and handed the victory to Benni Raich of Austria, who won there again on Wednesday.

Snow fell intermittently throughout the day. A slightly larger crowd turned out, in part because the roads were cleared and in part because Sarka Zahrobska, the nation’s top skier, was competing in her best event. Zahrobska finished the day in eighth.

Julia Mancuso, whose ski boots have been missing for three weeks, was 25th in the first run, but won the second run to finish ninth at the end of the day.

Koznick was disappointed with both of her runs, particularly the second, she took a gate to the helmet and displaced her goggles. ‘I hit my head so hard in the face that I actually thought the lens had popped out’ she said. ‘When I’m thinking like that, I know I’m not focused…I skied pretty bad today, giving it everything I had.’

Stiegler showed promising signs of recovery from a complicated shin injury which has kept her out of World Cup action for the beginning of the season. Eighteenth in the first run, she finished the day 13th. ‘I think it just shows that once I get some training I’ll be fast’ said the Wyoming native, who is wearing Tony the Tiger stripes on her helmet in accordance with a Kellogg’s endorsement contract. ‘It was a good comeback race for my confidence.’

Kildow was pleased with her skiing, even though slalom once her only event is not her forte. ‘Everyone obviously had the same conditions’ she said. ‘I’m still in the top 30 now in slalom, so that’s good…I’m looking forward to that speed lineup in January.’

Richardson just barely qualified for the second run, finishing the first run in a tie for 29th, only four hundredths ahead of the next racer. Richardson took advantage of an early start number to ski well. ‘I’m so glad to get to the bottom with a solid run’ she said. ‘I didn’t clam up because of wanting to do well.’

The Minnesota skier compared the Czech Republic’s mountains to those of upstate New York. ‘Most of the mountains aren’t that big, but there are a few that are big enough for racing’ she said. ‘It’s cool. This is part of Europe, and they have good skiers, and it’s nice to come here instead of race on the same hills all the time.’

With its dark forests and buildings marked with tall Gothic script, some World Cup visitors have found the town gloomy, but the U.S. Ski Team women have been mostly charmed by ‘the Spindler.’

‘It’s different than I thought it would be’ said Jenny Lathrop, who finished 42nd on the first run, 62 hundredths too slow to qualify for the second run. ‘It’s kind of a winter wonderland. The people have been really nice and we had a little bit of time in Prague.’

The Czech Republic has long been a hotbed of support for skiing’s Nordic disciplines cross-country, jumping and Nordic combined but this race and Wednesday’s giant slalom are the first alpine World Cups ever held in the nation.

The president of the country, Vaclav Klaus, has been in town for the races, assisting with the finish-area prizegiving ceremonies.

After Thursday’s race World Cup takes a well-earned break for the Christmas holiday, before racing resumes in the middle of next week in Bormio, Italy, (men’s downhill) and Lienz, Austria, (women’s GS and slalom). ‘A bunch of us are going to have a little Christmas get-together at Resi’s place’ said Richardson.

Women’s Slalom
Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic
Dec. 22, 2005

1. Anja Paerson, SWE 1:38.49
2. Janica Kostelic, CRO 1:38.98
3. Marlies Schild, AUT 1:39.75
4. Annemarie Gerg, GER 1:40.40
5. Kathrin Zettel, AUT 1:40.49
6. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 1:40.59
7. Nicole Hosp, AUT 1:41.10
8. Sarka Zahrobska, CZE 1:41.27
9. Julia Mancuso, USA 1:41.36
10. Kristina Koznick, USA 1:41.48
11. Laura Pequegnot, FRA 1:41.56
12. Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer, GER 1:41.63
13. Resi Stiegler, USA 1:41.66
14. Lindsey Kildow, USA 1:41.73
15. Anna Ottosson, SWE 1:41.78
16. Veronika Zuzulova, SVK 1:41.88
17. Kaylin Richardson, USA 1:41.90
18. Maria Pietilae-Holmner, SWE 1:41.94
19. Henna Raita, FIN 1:41.98
20. Chiara Costazza, ITA 1:42.05
21. Nika Fleiss, CRO 1:42.28
22. Therese Borssen, SWE 1:42.29
23. Sonja Nef, SUI 1:42.38
24. Maneula Moelgg, USA 1:42.56
25. Christel Pascal, FRA 1:42.66
26. Florian DeLeymarie, FRA 1:42.71
27. Martina Ertl-Renz, GER 1:42.86
28. Ana Jelusic, CRO 1:43.05
29. Anja Blieninger, GER 1:43.07
30. Lucie Hrstkova, CZE 1:42.27
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Britt Janyk, Brigitte Acton, CAN; Lauren Ross, Jenni Lathrop, USA.

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Womens slalom, Spindleruv Mlyn Dec. 22, 2005

Skier
, skis/boots/bindings

1. Paerson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2. Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3. Schild, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
4. Gerg, Head/Lange/Marker
5. Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Poutiainen, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
7. Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
8. Zahrobska, Head/Head/Tyrolia
9. Mancuso, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10. Koznick, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker

Women’s Slalom, Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic. … It is the 11th race of the women’s 34 race, two combined World Cup schedule. … It is the second of nine scheduled slaloms. … The second of a two race set at Spinderluv Mlyn and the second alpine World Cup – first slalom – ever in the Czech Republic.

It is the 28th career win for Anja Paerson. … Her 17th in slalom. … Her second of the season. … She is now tied with Janica Kostelic for fifth on the all time slalom win list and third among women behind Vreni Schneider (23) and Erika Hess (21). … She is 24.

It is the 42nd career podium for Janica Kostelic. … Her 28th in slalom. … Her fourth of the season (2 in GS, 2 SL). … She is 23. … It is the 11th time these two skiers have finished one-two in a World Cup.

It is the 15th career podium for Marlies Schild. … Her 12th in slalom. … Her second of the season and second in two days. … She is 24.

It is the 10th career top 10 for Julia Mancuso. … Her third of the season, each in a different discipline. … She has scored in 10 of the 11 races held. … It is the 52nd career top 10 for Kristinz Koznick. … Her first of the season. … It is the 18th career scoring result for Resi Stiegler… First of the season after an injury. … 16 of those finishes are in slalom. … It is the sixth career score in slalom for Lindsey Kildow. … The second this season. … It is the first scoring result in a race for Kaylin Richardson. … She had one score previously in combined from Sansicario last season.

Michaela Dorfmeister (did not race) maintains the overall lead at 502pts, but Kostelic moves into second with 492 and Anja Paerson into third at 440. … Kildow is top American in fifth at 390, Mancuso is eighth at 225. … Paerson, with two wins in two races, leads the slalom standings, but Kostelic, with two seconds in two races, is at 160. … Kathrin Zettel is third at 105. … Koznick in 10th at 44 is the top American.

There are just two DNF’s over both runs. Winning margin is .49 of a second. … Third is over a second and a quarter out and fifth is two seconds out.

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