Snowbasin, Utah Feb. 14, 2002 (AP by Rob Gloster)--Caroline Lalive's hopes of joining Bode Miller as an American medalist in the combined event disappeared Thursday when she fell on the first slalom run and dropped out of the event.
Lalive's flop left her a whopping 17.85 seconds behind first-run leader Janica Kostelic of Croatia and left Lalive little chance of recovering enough in the second slalom run and downhill for a medal.
Lalive, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finished seventh in the combined event at the 1998 Nagano Games and was considered a dark horse for a medal in the event at the Salt Lake City Games.
But she slipped midway down the first slalom run and slid on her left side past two gates. Then she slowly walked back up the mountain, 13 sideways steps on her skis, to get back on course.
Kostelic, bidding to become the first member of her family to win a medal at the Salt Lake City Games, took a half-second lead on the first slalom run.
Kostelic, who won the World Cup slalom and overall titles last season, started first and finished fastest in 44.60 seconds. Martina Ertl of Germany was second in 45.10 and Austria's Renate Goetschl was third in 45.66.
Kostelic is coming back from September knee surgery that kept her off the World Cup circuit until late December. Her older brother, Ivica, is a medal contender in the men's slalom next week.
Kostelic had the letters I-V-I-C-A painted on the nails of her left hand during Thursday's race.
A couple of 17-year-old Americans, Lindsey Kildow and Julia Mancuso, did considerably better than Lalive. Kildow, from Vail, Colo., was sixth fastest on the first slalom run in 45.95 and Mancuso, from Squaw Valley, Calif., was 16th in 47.66.
Weather forced officials to rearrange the order of the combined event. The downhill portion had been scheduled for the morning, with two slalom runs in the afternoon, similar to the men's program Wednesday in which Miller stormed from behind to capture a silver medal.
But high winds and fog made running a downhill Thursday morning impossible, so officials decided to run the slalom first and hope for better conditions in the afternoon.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press