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Koz Wins Slalom in Germany, Schleper Fifth

Berchtesgaden, Germany, Jan. 20, 2002 (AP by Roy Kammer) -- Kristina Koznick's first World Cup victory of the season gave her every reason to be encouraged for next month's Salt Lake City Olympics.

The Burnsville, Minn., skier shared first place Sunday with Marlies Oester of Switzerland, capitalizing on a strong first run to record her fifth career slalom win.

``I'm trying to plan it so I can peak for the Olympics going home,'' Koznick said. ``I think I'm right on track.''

Another American, Sarah Schleper, finished fifth.

Koznick and Oester completed two runs on the flat Goetschen slope in 1 minute, 56.30 seconds, taking advantage of a fall by first-run leader Anja Pearson of Sweden.

Koznick moved into contention to win the World Cup slalom season title with 418 points. France's Laure Pequegnot leads with 452, and Pearson is third with 400.

Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister kept the lead in the overall World Cup standings with 708 points, followed by Switzerland's Sonja Nef at 675, and Paerson at 629. Koznick is sixth with 467.

Koznick's first run of 55.79 Sunday was second only to Paerson's 55.18 and well ahead of the rest of the pack as fog and a drizzle of rain and soft snow fell.

Koznick's second run was 1:00.51 as she and others had to contend with ruts building through new snow.

``My first run saved me for sure,'' Koznick said. ``That's why I'm up here with Marlies.''

Oester had the fastest second run of 59.72, winning her first World Cup race by charging to the front after being just ninth-fastest in the first run.

Janica Kostelic was third at 1:56.60, the best finish for the Croatian in her comeback from injuries. France's Christel Pascal-Saioni was fourth in 1:56.72, followed by Schleper in 1:56.98.

Koznick had twice settled for second place this season behind Pearson, who would have moved back into first place in both the slalom and overall World Cup standings with a victory Sunday.

The Swede charged down the slope a half-second ahead of her competitors before her bottom-half spill. Paerson's skis suddenly spread apart, she lost control and crashed.

Kostelic dominated the slalom and won the overall title last year before a series of injuries, including a bad back that still bothers her.

``It could be I don't qualify next time. It's up and down,'' Kostelic said. ``But I'm not frustrated. Everybody expects a lot of me, to be first again, but it's not possible with injuries.''

FIS CAFE DE COLOMBIA WORLD CUP

Berchtesgaden, GER - Jan. 20

Women's Slalom

1. Marlies Oester, Switzerland, 1:56.30 (56.58-59.72).
(tie) Kristina Koznick, United States, 1:56.30 (55.79-1:00.51).
3. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:56.60 (56.51-1:00.09).
4. Christel Pascal-Saioni, France, 1:56.72 (56.69-1:00.03).
5. Sarah Schleper, United States, 1:56.98 (56.59-1:00.29).

World Cup Slalom Standings

1. Pequegnot, 452.
2. Koznick, 418.
3. Paerson, 400.
4. Nef, 285.
5. Pascal-Saioni, 276.
--
8. Schleper, 222.

Overall World Cup Standings

1. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 708.
2. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 675.
3. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 629.
4. Hilde Gerg, Germany, 575.
5. Renate Gotschl, Austria, 514.
--
6. Kristina Koznick, United States, 467.
18. Sarah Schleper, United States, 302.
24. Caroline Lalive, United States, 228.
(tie) Kirsten Clark, United States, 228.
41. Picabo Street, United States, 124.
68. Jonna Mendes, United States, 60.
75. Katie Monahan, United States, 47.
91. Julia Mancuso, United States, 24.
93. Lindsey Kildow, United States, 19.

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