Santa Caterina, Italy (Feb. 12)--"It looked great up on the podium,'Liner' wearing No. 50 and in between No. 16 and No. 17, Goetschl andFlemmen." - U.S. Coach Georg Capaul.
Caroline (Liner) Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), the reigning - foranother two weeks - world junior gold medalist in combined, climbed ontoher first World Cup podium Saturday as she finished second in thecombined tally from a downhill and slalom in Santa Caterina. She was29th Thursday in a DH won by Isolde Kostner and finished 25th Saturdayin the SL; that put Lalive second in the combined behind Austrian RenateGoetschl, ahead of Norway's Andrine Flemmen.
While Lalive and her teammates were celebrating her first podium, therewas additional reason for joy in the U.S. hotel after Kristina Koznick(Burnsville, MN) had her best result of the season - and the best raceresult by an American, male or female - in finishing fourth. With SarahSchleper (Vail, CO) tied for 18th, that meant three U.S. racers were inthe top 25. Tasha Nelson (Mound, MN) narrowly missed qualifying despitehaving a boot break midway through her run.
Spela Pretnar of Slovenia and Frenchwoman Christel Saioni - who eachwon a Super Series race at Breckenridge, Colo., and deadlocked for firstplace in the opening slalom of the season, the Chevy Truck World Cuplast November at Copper Mountain, Colo. - went 1-2. Pretnar, who hadconsidered retirement after the '99 season and enrolling in UCLA, tookher second straight SL, moving to the top of the slalom standings in1:29.14 when first-run leader Trine Bakke of Norway straddled a gateearly on her final run. Saioni was second in 1:29.44 with Anja Paersonof Sweden third in 1:29.61.
Koznick, showing growing confidence and comfort in a new set of 170cmVolkls, was fifth after the first run and had the second-fastest secondrun to finish fourth with a 1:29.98 clocking. Schleper's time was1:31.86 and Lalive - who now has scored points in the four alpine eventsplus combined - was 25th in 1:32.32.
"Not a bad day, not bad at all. They all performed well. 'Liner' gother podium and Koz had a great second run and the other coaches know nowshe's back, she's a threat again, a really dangerous customer again,"Capaul said. "Schlep was a little disappointing because she was ninth onthe top in the first run but got too cautious at the bottom, and thenheld her own in the second run.
"And Tasha, oh my gosh, she was skiing the best of the year so far -the best! And then her ski boot broke at the top of the boot...and shestill was only two-tenths out of qualifying. That's how good sheskied...so good!"
Koznick, who switched skis during the preseason, said the new skis haveremoved any hesitancy in her skiing. "I wish I'd stuck to one skisooner; I wish I was where I am now a month ago, but I had to try thenew skis...It's just so nice to have that confidence again. Volkl's beengreat and I really feel I'm back.It's the difference between confidentand comfortable - I can adjust and be comfortable on anything, I think,but to have this confidence again..."
She tuned up for the return to Europe by winning a Super Series slalomMonday at Utah's Deer Valley Resort on the 2002 Olympic SL run. "When Ileft the start at Deer Valley, I was right into it, and that's thefeeling I have now. 'I can go, I can go.' It's great."
The three races in Santa Caterina were pickups after poor snow atUtah's Snowbasin forced officials to relocate the DH/SG at Snowbasin andthe SL/CO at Deer Valley. The Cafe de Colombia schedule moves on toraces in Are, Sweden.
CAFE de COLOMBIA ALPINE WORLD CUPSanta Caterina, ITA - Feb. 12Women's SL1. Spela Pretnar, Slovenia, 1:29.142. Christel Saioni, France, 1:29.443. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:29.614. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn., 1:29.985. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 1:30.726. Elisabetta Biavashi, Italy, 1:30.767. Henna Raith, Finland, 1:30.798. Claudia Riegler, New Zealand, 1:30.869. Karin Koellerer, Austria, 1:30.9410. Denise Karbon, Italy, 1:311.3011. (tie) Vanessa Vidal, France, and Anna Ottosson, Sweden, 1:31.3313. Sabine Egger, Austria, 1:31.3814. Monika Bergmann, Germany, 1:31.4115. Zali Steggall, Australia, 1:31.5616. Urska Hrovat, Slovenia, 1:31.6517. Alenka Dovzan, Slovenia, 1:31.8218. (tie) Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., and Emma Carrick-Anderson, GreatBritain, 1:31.86 each20. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:31.9821. Karin Truppe, Austria, 1:32.0922. Ingrid Salvenmoser, Austria, 1:32.1023. Hedda Berntsen, Norway, 1:32.2424. Malin Hultdin, Sweden, 1:32.2725. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:32.3226. Noriya Hiroi, Japan, 1:32.4127. Kumiko Kashiwagi, Japan, 1:32.8128. Ylva Nowen, Sweden, 1:33.32 -DNQ: Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif.; Alison Powers, Winter Park, Colo.