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Are, Sweden Feb. 20 (AP by Stephan Nasstrom)--Spela Pretnar of Slovenia won her third straight World Cup slalom Sunday, beating Kristina Koznick of the United States by .24 seconds.

Pretnar came from third in the first run to win the final slalom before the World Cup finals at Bormio, Italy, next month. Her fourth win in eight races gave her a 55-point lead in the slalom standings.

``The conditions were very demanding,'' Pretnar said. ``Everybody was very close (after the first run) and I focused to give my best, not thinking about the World Cup slalom title. I tried to be as aggressive as possible.''

Pretnar had a two-run time of 1 minute, 32.02 seconds down the Gastrappet course, where she also earned her first career slalom victory last year.

Koznick, who also posted her first World Cup victory here, a slalom in 1998, made the podium for the first time this season.

``My first run wasn't as good as I wanted,'' Koznick said. ``I knew I could have been so much faster, so that was frustrating. I skied well in the second run, but I lost it over the last 10 gates. But it's the best I've skied in a long time, so I'm happy.''

The last 10 gates cover a flat part of the course and that gave Pretnar an edge.

``She's so good on the flats,'' Koznick said.

Third was Sweden's Anja Paerson, .47 seconds behind the winner.

France's Christer Saioni led Koznick by .03 seconds after the first run, but dropped to fourth overall, .51 seconds behind Pretnar. Saioni trails Pretnar, 556 points to 501, in the slalom standings.

Renate Goetschl of Austria, winner of Saturday's sprint downhill on the adjacent Olympia course, skied out in the first run.

She retained a 56-point lead (1,053-997) over teammate Michaela Dorfmeister in the World Cup overall standings. Dorfmeister doesn't compete in the slalom.

Sonja Nef of Switzerland, winner of Thursday's giant slalom race here, straddled a gate on the lower part of the course in the second run and went airborne before landing hard. Nef, fifth after the first round, escaped serious injury after the spectacular crash.

Trine Bakke of Norway was on her way to the fastest time in the opening run before straddling the 59th and next to last gate. She was disqualified.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press

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