March 12, 2005
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP)--Sarah Schleper of the United States posted her first career World Cup victory in the season's final slalom race Saturday, and Janica Kostelic finished second to close in on overall leader Anja Paerson.
Paerson finished in 10th place and now has 1,359 points in the overall World Cup standings, 35 more than Kostelic with Sunday's season-ending giant slalom still to come. Kostelic has 1,324 points.
Paerson will be favored in Sunday's event and a win will earn her another 100 points.
Schleper covered the Silvano Beltrametti course in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 29.13 seconds, maintaining her lead from the first run.
Kostelic was 0.34 seconds behind and Nicole Hosp of Austria was 0.90 back for third.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland tied with Martina Ertl of Germany for fourth.
Poutiainen had already wrapped up the season's World Cup slalom title with one race to spare at Maribor, Slovenia, in January.
Poutiainen's coach set the first run and Kostelic's father and coach Ante Kostelic placed the gates for the second.
Schleper's previous best results were two second-place finishes in slaloms at Sestriere, Italy, in 2000 and last season. Teammates Lindsey Kildow, Julia Mancuso and Resi Stiegler joined her in the finish area to celebrate, jumping on top of one another.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press