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Women's Slalom at Deer Valley: Three Americans Crash

Park City, Utah (AP by Rob Gloster) -- Kristina Koznick , the only skier left with a realistic chance of preventing an Alpine medal shutout for American women, crashed out of the first run of the slalom Wednesday morning.

Koznick, a Minnesotan who came into the race as the second-best slalomer on the World Cup circuit this season, slipped with five gates remaining and her right ski went high in the air.

She fell and slipped down the course, then slumped on the snow in disappointment for several seconds before skiing to the bottom of the course and sitting on her skis in the finish area.

Also failing to finish the first run was Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., who lost a ski about two-thirds of the way down the course. Schleper has had several top-10 finishes on the World Cup this season.

The U.S. women very likely will leave Salt Lake City without a medal in Alpine skiing, the first time they finished an Olympics empty-handed since the 1988 Calgary Games.

They failed to finish better than sixth in the downhill, super giant slalom or combined event last week at Snowbasin, and even U.S. women's coach Marjan Cernigoj said a medal in Friday's giant slalom is unlikely.

The first run was held in a steady snow and the course was extremely difficult and slippery, forcing several other contenders also to fall on the first run. Among those who did not finish the run was Christel Pascal-Saioni of France.

Pascal-Saioni hit a gate near the top of the course and lost her left ski _ pounding her right fist into the snow in anger.

The pre-race favorite, Anja Paerson of Sweden, was fourth on the first run after skiing tentatively. She put her hands on her helmet and shook her head at the finish line.

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