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Santa Caterina, Italy Feb. 12 (AP Howard Fendrich)--Spela Pretnar, who nearly quit skiing a year ago, won her second straight World Cup slalom Saturday and moved atop the event standings.

The Slovenian turned in two solid runs on the tree-lined Cevedale course for a combined time of 1 minute, 29.14 seconds, beating France's Christel Saioni by .30 seconds.

Pretnar's win was assured only when first-run leader Trine Bakke straddled a gate just seconds into her final run.

``Now I'm thinking about winning the overall slalom title,'' Pretnar said. ``Now I see it's possible for me to win it.''

It certainly is. With three races left, she moved up from third place to first in the slalom standings with 456 points, five ahead of Saioni and 66 in front of Bakke.

``It's tough to beat either Bakke or Saioni,'' Pretnar said. ``They are both good. If you want to win the title or be at the top of the standings, you need to be on the podium at every race. You have to attack 100 percent every time.''

Pretnar has been doing that since November, when she and Saioni tied for first in the season-opening slalom at Copper Mountain, Colo. She won again at Berchtesgaden, Germany, last month, and has finished second and fourth in two other races.

All this from someone who had one top-three placing each of the prior two seasons and wanted out of the sport after a particularly disheartening 1998-99 season.

``I wanted to quit last year,'' Pretnar said. ``I was sick of everything. It's only nice to ski when you have good results.''

Pretnar was on the verge of heading to the United States to study business at UCLA when the Slovenian ski federation persuaded her to stick around for one more season.

``I didn't expect I would ski so well this season,'' Pretnar said. ``I guess it's good I didn't quit.''

Bakke dominated the first run, winning at 43.25, .24 seconds faster than Saioni and .65 better than Pretnar. But Bakke's misfortune in the second run left her with no standings points; she hadn't finished lower than sixth all season.

Anja Paerson of Sweden was third at 1:29.61, and Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., fourth at 1:29.98, her top showing this season.

Austria's Sabine Egger, the defending World Cup slalom champion, struggled through both runs and wound up 13th.

Renate Goetschl closed within 34 points (947 to 913) of overall World Cup standings leader Michaela Dorfmeister by finishing first in a combined event, calculated by adding together skiers' times from Thursday's downhill and the slalom. Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was second in the combined.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press

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