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Schoenfelder Wins World Cup Slalom Title

SESTRIERE, Italy March 15, 2004 (AP by Erica Bulman) - Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria won the slalom title at the World Cup Finals on Sunday ahead of beleaguered Kalle Palander of Finland.

Sweden's Anja Paerson, the newly crowned overall women's winner, captured the final giant slalom. Schoenfelder finished second Sunday, just 0.05 seconds behind Palander's time of 1 minute, 49.67 seconds. But the Austrian prevented Palander from overtaking him in the slalom standings.

``I just concentrated on protecting my lead,'' Schoenfelder said. ``I raced like it was any other race in the season. I am most proud of that, of managing the pressure.''

Austria's Manfred Pranger was third, 0.15 seconds behind. Bode Miller ended his season with a seventh-place finish and Austria's Benjamin Raich came in 10th. Raich was third in the final overall standings, beating fourth-place Miller by five points.

The top four in the overall standings are: Hermann Maier (1,265), Stephan Eberharter (1,223), Raich (1,139), Miller (1,134). Maier won the overall title Saturday. Click below for full results.

Paerson clinched the slalom and giant slalom crowns before the finals. For her fourth consecutive giant slalom win and fifth this season, the Swede was timed in 2:13.70. She was 1.11 seconds ahead of Italy's Denise Karbon, with Austria's Alexandra third.

Schoenfelder won his first World Cup season title, 35 points ahead of Palander. This was the second straight day Palander missed out on a title because of an International Ski Federation ruling.

``I have not felt so sad in my life after winning a race,'' Palander said. ``This victory was useless.''

In a federation ruling this season, Schoenfelder received an extra 80 points in the discipline standings. He was awarded second in a slalom at Park City, Utah, in November although he initially was disqualified.

Schoenfelder skied off course in his first run but was given a second chance when officials ruled a volunteer sprawled in the snow distracted him. Following protests, the federation reversed its decision, disqualifying Schoenfelder. However, the federation reinstated Schoenfelder's result, contending the race jury should not deal with a protest about a decision it had made.

The Finnish federation has taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Without the 80 points, Schoenfelder would be second in the standings, 45 behind Palander.

Palander said the two never discussed the matter.

``It's too hard for me,'' he said. ``I congratulated him today, but it was not my with heart.''

Schoenfelder refused to talk about the issue.

On Saturday, Palander lost a good chance to replace Miller atop the giant slalom standings when the final race was canceled because of fog with only 11 racers left in the second run.

Palander was second at the time and Miller had crashed in the opening leg. The Finn needed only to maintain his position in the race to beat the American for the title.

Even though the overall and giant slalom titles were at stake, the federation said the second leg would not be rescheduled Sunday.

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