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Paerson Wraps Up Slalom Season Title

ZWIESEL, Germany, Feb. 8 2004 (AP by Roy Kammerer) -- Anja Paerson won her second World Cup season title in two days, capturing the slalom crown with a victory in a race in which three Americans finished in the top 10.

This was the best result in years for the U.S. women. Sarah Schleper was fourth, with Resi Stiegler eighth and Kristina Koznick 10th.

Paerson, one day after clinching the giant slalom title, fought through steady snowfall and dark threatening skies Sunday to finish her two heats in 1 minute, 29.58 seconds.

The Swede was 0.44 seconds ahead of Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer of Germany. Veronika Zuzulova of Slovakia was third at 1:30.26.

"It's overwhelming," Paerson said. "I wasn't trying to win any cups this year, just focus on each race."

Paerson has the edge in a tight race for the overall World Cup title. She has eight victories this year and 1,220 points, with Austria's Renate Goetschl at 1,108.

Schleper was timed in 1:30.64 despite a bad back that almost forced her to skip the race.

"I don't think that's happened in a long time," Schleper said. "It was an awesome weekend. Our whole game plan worked."

Paerson posted the 20th victory of her career. In slaloms this season, she won at times by more than a second while claiming five of six races and wrapping up the title with three races left.

She shares roots with Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark -- both come from the ski resort of Tarneby.

"She's unbelievable," Stenmark said. "I'm glad she wasn't skiing in my time because she would have been faster than me."

Paerson has been helped by injuries to her top competitors, with eight of the powerful Austrian women sidelined.

Goetschl did not qualify for the second run Sunday. But she picked up unexpected points in the race for the overall title Saturday by taking third in the giant slalom.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press

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