Are, Sweden Feb. 22 2004 (USST) - World Cup leader Anja Paerson of Sweden tore out of the pack on the final run Sunday and jumped from 10th place to her 10th victory of the season in a World Cup giant slalom. Kristina Koznick (Eagan, MN) finished 10th and Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) was 18th as she scored points in her fourth discipline this season.
Paerson used a pattern made familiar by hometown hero Ingemar Stenmark, who had an unapproachable 86 World Cup wins - i.e., sizzling second run to victory - and laid down the fastest second run to overcome a .41 deficit and win by more than a half-second in 2:15.64. Maria Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain was second in 2:16.17. Koznick, seventh in the first run, struggled on the bottom of the second run and finished in 2:17.41. Coincidentally, Koznick's three best World Cup giant slalom results have come in Are — ninth two years ago, 10th last year and again Sunday.
Kildow, coming out of the number 48 start after collecting the bronze medal in GS at the recent World Junior Championships in Slovenia, was 12th in the first run and had a total time of 2:17.62.
The Swede lengthened her lead over Austrian Renate Goetschl, who had closed to within 23 points by winning a super G Saturday - her 32nd World Cup win. For Paerson, whose first victory came in a slalom race in December 1998 at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., it was victory number 21.
After snow early in the race, the sun arrived and conditions were almost ideal with hard snow, which allowed nine skiers from outside the top 30 starters to break into the second run, including two who skied from the 60s into the top 25. The women head next to Levi, Finland, for two slaloms Feb. 28-29, the first World Cup races to be held in Finland; Paerson has won six slaloms this season.
Berths in World Cup Finals March 10-14 in Sestriere, Italy, which go to the top 25 skiers in a discipline plus Nor Am and Europa Cup event champions and World Junior Championships gold medalists, are being finalized. Heading to Levi, the following U.S. women have qualified:
Downhill — Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME)*, Kildow, Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), Jonna Mendes (heavenly, CA), Bryna McCarty (Concord, VT)
Super G — Clark, Lalive, Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA)
GS — Clark, Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO)
Slalom — Schleper, Koznick, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY)
- Having compiled more than 400 World Cup points before being injured last month and sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken wrist and knee injuries, Clark could choose to race in any event at Finals. She is in the top 25 of downhill, super G and GS, anyway. If Koznick were to have two podiums in Levi's slaloms, that would put her over 400 points, too, and give her an opportunity to ski GS at World Cup Finals.
WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Are, Sweden - Feb. 22, 2004
1. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 2:15.64
2. Maria Jose Rienda Contreras, Spain, 2:16.17
3. Elizabeth Goergl, Austria, 2:16.37
4. Denise Karbon, Italy, 2:16.65
5. Maria Riesch, Germany, 2:16.82
10. Kristina Koznick, Eagan, Minn., 2:17.41
18. Lindsey Kildow, Vail, Colo., 2:17.62
Did not qualify for 2nd run: Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif.; Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif.; Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, Vt.; Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo.; Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
DNF-1: Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, Wash.