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Kostelic Gold in Women's Combined

from the Associated Press News Desk

Snowbasin, Ut. -- Feb. 14, 2002 (AP Rob Gloster) -- Caroline Lalive's hopes of joining Bode Miller as an American medalist in the combined event disappeared when she fell in the slalom and dropped out of the event later won by Croatia's Janica Kostelic.

Kostelic, 20, became the first member of her family to win a medal at the Salt Lake City Games. Her older brother, Ivica, will be a favorite in the men's slalom next week.

Kostelic skied the race with the letters I-V-I-C-A painted on the nails of her left hand.

She completed the two slalom runs and the downhill that make up the combined event in 2 minutes, 43.28 seconds. She won by nearly 1.5 seconds over Renate Goetschl of Austria, who captured her second medal in three days -- she won bronze in Tuesday's downhill.

The bronze medal went to Martina Ertl of Germany. Lindsey Kildow (Vail, Colo.), 17, was sixth in her first Olympic race.

Kostelic, who won the World Cup slalom and overall titles last season, is coming back from a September knee surgery that kept her off the World Cup circuit until late December.

Lalive, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finished seventh in the combined event at the 1998 Nagano Games and was a medal hopeful in the event here.

But she slipped midway down the first slalom run and slid past two gates. She got to her feet, gallantly trekking sideways back up the mountain -- right ski followed by left, 13 painstakingly slow steps.

She finished a whopping 17.85 seconds behind first-run leader Kostelic and had little chance of making up enough time in the second slalom run and downhill to contend for a medal.

Lalive stormed off the mountain, telling U.S. Ski Team officials she had nothing to say. Then she failed to show up for the second slalom run.

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 (c) 2002 The Associated Press

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