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France's Pequegnot Wins WC SL

Copper Mountain, Nov. 22, 2001(AP by Bob Baum)--Her French teammates want to remember Regine Cavagnoud with victories, not tears.

Laure Pequegnot earned her first World Cup triumph Thursday, just three weeks after Cavagnoud, the team leader, died in a training accident.

``We do it for her family, her boyfriend,'' Pequegnot said. ``She wouldn't like that we cry all the time. I'm sure that she would want that we compete.''

Pequegnot said she used Cavagnoud as inspiration as she survived a calamity-filled second run in which she had her helmet and goggles knocked askew, then nearly had to dodge a piece of gate that snapped off.

The temptation was there give in to the difficulties.

``I know Regine always competes, she never quit,'' Pequegnot said. ``She is a very good example. Me, I really want to be like her, and never give up.''

Pequegnot edged 18-year-old Austrian Christine Sponring by 0.17 seconds.

As she crossed the finish line, Pequegnot slipped onto the freshly fallen snow. Teammate Christel Pascal-Siaioni ran to her and hugged her, then a coach climbed the fence and joined the celebration.

The 26-year-old Pequegnot won in a combined time of 1:37.64. Most of the morning run was held in a snowstorm, but the snow tapered to flurries by the afternoon run.

Pequegnot struggled to maintain control on the second run. She clipped a gate at one point and it shattered, sending a piece skidding down the slope alongside the French skier.

At another point, a collision with a gate knocked her goggles out of place, forcing her to reach up and adjust them while twisting through gates.

Sponring, also seeking her first World Cup victory, was second in 1:37.81. Her teammate, Carina Raich, was third in 1:38.72. Raich is the sister of defending men's World Cup slalom champion Benjamin Raich.

Pascal-Saioni was fourth in 1:38.83.

The U.S. women had nothing to celebrate in the only World Cup stop on their home snow.

The top U.S. finisher was Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., who tied for sixth. She slammed her left ski pole into her hip in frustration after completing the second run.

``It's frustrating because I've been training really fast the last two months,'' she said, ``and those are probably two of the worst runs I've had in a long time, so that's hard. But to know that two of my worst runs puts me in sixth, on the other hand, is kind of nice.''

Koznick's day was wonderful compared with the other top U.S. competitors.

Sarah Schleper of Vail fell near the bottom of the second run. Caroline Lalive, from Steamboat Springs, hit a gate with her nose near the bottom of the first run and slid out of the race.

Koznick has her own coach and trains apart from the U.S. team. The others are supposed to be the rising young stars hoping to emerge with medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics in February.

``I'm not discouraged, just frustrated,'' U.S. women's coach Marjan Cernigoj said. ``Nobody skied up to their abilities. Nobody took advantage of the opportunity that was there.''

On Wednesday, Norway's Andrine Flemmen won a giant slalom to kick off a holiday weekend of World Cup skiing that also is scheduled to include men's slalom races Sunday and Monday in Aspen.

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