DEER VALLEY, Utah (Feb. 20) -- Croatian Janica Kostelic picked up her third medal of the Olympic Winter Games Wednesday as she took gold in the women's slalom at Deer Valley. It was a disappointing day for the U.S. skiers as three of four racers failed to finish.
Kostelic won with a two-run combined time of 1:46.10 on the steep course. She was followed by France's Laure Pequegnot in 1:46.17 and Sweden's Anja Paerson in 1:47.09.
"I didn't go to Are (Sweden, for the World Cup)," said Kostelic. "I went home to rest, so I was kind of fresh here."
Lindsey C. Kildow (Vail, Colo.), the lone American to finish two runs, placed 32nd with a time of 2:00.73. Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, Minn.) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, Colo.), considered medal hopes for the U.S., along with Tasha Nelson (Mound, Minn.), skied out on their first runs.
Kostelic was in first following the first run with a time of 52.14, the fastest time recorded on the course all day. She continued her strong Olympic performances, adding another medal to her combined gold and super G silver.
Koznick entered the race ranked second in World Cup slalom standings with eight top-10 finishes, including a win in Berchtesgaden, Germany, her fifth career slalom victory. Schleper, after a slow start to the season, regrouped and had six top-10 World Cup finishes entering the Games.
After a strong top half, Koznick, about six gates from the finish, fell down around a left-hand turn. The same gate claimed seven skiers. Schleper skied out of a binding about half way down the course, while Nelson went out on the top half. "The number-three starting position is usually a good number," said Koznick. "But on a course like this that's so tough, it's not good. Even early on, there were huge holes. It was really difficult. This course caught me off guard. I tried to make up some time near the finish and it caught up with me."
"I felt all right on top," said Schleper. "This course is really tough. I was charging for it. That's what's difficult about this sport -- your technique, equipment, course conditions -- it's never the same."
Kildow, the last skier to be named for the slalom, was chosen as a result of her solid sixth-place finish in the combined event (slalom and downhill). She almost did not finish her second run Wednesday as she missed a gate and had to hike back up in order to get a finish.
"The conditions were not as I had planned, but that's skiing," said Kildow. "It was just not our day. My goal was to finish. I did, not gracefully, but I did it. I haven't really had the best season, so I'm just happy to be skiing."
It wasn't just the U.S. skiers that had problems with the course, as 19 total skiers did not finish their first run and 11 more failed to finish their second. Course conditions were less than optimal. Most of the skiers were getting kicked all over the run as fresh snow and warm temperatures never allowed the course to set up properly.
"The course was bad," said Kostelic. "It was breaking up. It was rutty." The final women's Alpine event of the Olympic Winter Games is the giant slalom. It is scheduled for a 10 a.m. start Friday at Park City Mountain Resort.
2002 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
February 20, 2002
Deer Valley, Utah
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia (1:46.10)
2. Laure Pequegnot, France (1:46.17)
3. Anja Paerson, Sweden (1:47.09)
32. Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, Colo. (2:00.73)
DNF Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn.
DNF Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo.
DNF Tasha Nelson, Mound, Minn.