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Tanja Poutiainen of Finland wins World Cup slalom in Aspen


Tanja Poutiainen of Finland wins World Cup slalom in AspenUnderneath the friendly smile and sunny personality, Kristina Koznick is tough as nails. Through the last two seasons, she has had as much turmoil in her personal training program as any World Cup athlete. And today she held on through rugged conditions to in the second of two women’s slalom at Aspen, finishing third on a course that knocked out solid competitors like Janica Kostelic and Anja Paerson.

“When I start the season well, in the past, I have a consistent year,” said Koznick after the race. “A year ago at this time I was not at all happy, and now I’m really psyched.”

Koznick is racing independently from the U.S. Ski Team again, having tried to insert herself back into the team’s program last year. She travels with a group of three committed friends who coach, tune and organize logistics. Her skills in tech events (she was fourth last month in the World Cup Opener in Soelden) open the door for her to train with some of the world’s best skiers, like Paerson and Switzerland’s Sonja Nef.

Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen won for the second time in three races at Aspen Mountain today, beating Italy’s Manuela Moelgg by more than a second in the second of two World Cup slaloms. Poutiainen’s success mirrors that of her countryman Kalle Palander — both are strong alpine skiers from a nation historically obsessed with nordic disciplines.

Poutiainen, who also won the Aspen giant slalom two days ago, often trains in Switzerland, where she keeps an apartment. This summer she switched to Volkl skis, and says that had a positive effect on her skiing.

More than a foot of snow fell overnight and was still coming down during the first run. “A lot of people thought the race would be cancelled,” said Koznick. “I think Aspen is one of the only mountains that could have pulled it off.”

Big burms of fresh snow were piled next to the course, but athletes reported that the snow held up well in the race line, for the most part. Still, with heavy snow falling for the first run, visibility was difficult, and made it hard for some athletes to guage where the cross-ruts were. 21 athletes failed to finish. Austrian Elisabeth Goergl did a full somersault early in the first run. Resi Stiegler and Kaylin Richardson of the United States each went out near the bottom of the course, and hiked as the crowds cheered her on.

Trailing Kostelic by 0.44 seconds after the first run, Poutiainen cut it close on a couple of gates early in her second run and barely caught the last few before crossing the finish line in a two-run total of 1 minute, 50.77 seconds.

Moelgg moved up from eighth on the first run to second, finishing 1.21 seconds behind Poutiainen. Koznick was 1.37 seconds behind Poutiainen in the World Cup’s only U.S. stop for women. She finished sixth in Saturday’s slalom.

As for Kostelic, her chances of making it two straight wins ended early in the second run when she went sliding off the course. Kostelic won Saturday after missing nearly two years with a thyroid problem and four knee surgeries.

“It’s kind of logical knowing the circumstances I am coming from into this season,” Kostelic said. “Winning twice in two days or being three times on the podium in three days would be to much for me to achieve at this point.”

-staff and wire reports

World Cup
Aspen, Colo.,
Nov. 28, 2004

1. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 1:50.77
2. Manuela Moelgg, ITA 1:51.98
3. Kristina Koznick, USA 1:52.14
4. Florine DeLeymarie, FRA 1:52.27
5. Ana Jelusic, CRO 1:52.69
6. Laure Pequegnot, FRA 1:52.84
7. Therese Borsson, SWE 1:52.86
8. Veronika Zuzulova, SVK 1:52.96
9. Nika Fleiss, CRO 1:53.15
10. Sabine Egger, AUT 1:53.27
11. Sarka Zahrobska, CZE 1:53.49
12. Vanessa Vidal, FRA 1:53.90
13. Martina Ertl, GER 1:53.94
14. Line Viken, NOR 1:53.99
15. Sarah Schleper, USA 1:54.16
16. Sonja Nef, SUI 1:54.27
17. Lisa Bremseth, NOR 1:54.73
18. Petra Zakourilova, CZE 1:54.75
19. Britt Janyk, CAN 1:54.79
20. Henna Raita, FIN 1:54.83
21. Anna Ottosson, SWE 1:55.07
22. Marlies Oester, SUI 1:55.18
23. Lauren Ross, USA 1:55.38
24. Karen Putzer, ITA 1:55.65
other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Jessica Kelley, Lindsey Kildow, Kaylin Richardson, Resi Stiegler, USA.
DNF 1st: Anna Goodman, CAN.
DNF 2nd: Julia Mancuso, USA.

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Equipment
Aspen Women’s Slalom Nov. 28, 2004

skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Poutiainen, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
2 Moelgg, Fischer/Tecnica/Marker
3 Koznick, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
4 DeLeymarie, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Jelusic, Dynamic/Salomon/Atomic
6 Pequegnot, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Borsson, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Zuzulova, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Fleiss, Dynamic/Salomon/Salomon
10 Egger, Head/Lange/Tyrolia

It is the fourth race of a 32 race women’s World Cup schedule. … The second of eight slaloms.

It is the third career World Cup win for Tanja Poutiainen, her second of the season and second in three days. … It is the 13th Cup win for Finland.

It was the first career podium for Manuela Moelgg, … and just her second top 10, the other a 9th place finish at Semmering in the 1/29/02 night slalom. … It was the 18th career podium for Kristina Koznick. … the most recent a victory at Lillehammer 3/15/03.

It was the 37th top 15 finish for Sarah Schleper. … her second in two days (was 11th 11/27). … Lauren Ross, named to the “B” team last May, got her first World Cup points in 23rd. … Britt Janyk notched her 22nd career scoring finish and first of the season. … Julia Mancuso was 16th after the first run but failed to negotiate the second course.

First run leader Janica Kostelic was a second run DNF, but Croatia still placed two women in the top 10 with Ana Jelusic finishing 5th and Nika Fleiss 9th. … Poutiainen leads the World Cup standings 340-260 over Anja Paerson. (a first run DNF) … Koznick leads the U.S. in fourth with 157pts. … The U.S. climbs to second in the Nations Cup standings, trailing Austria 1129-686 (including men’s SG 11/28). … Sweden is third with 439pts. … The U.S. women with 273pts are fifth in Nations Cup behind Austria (400), Sweden (391), Finland (359) and Croatia (286).

Fritz Strobl wins Birds of Prey training run; American women in Lake LouiseWorld Cup Roundup: Beaver Creek, Aspen Mountain, Fritz Strobl, Vincent Lavoie, Finland, Whistler

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