Paerson edges Kildow yet again
ARE, Sweden ” Lindsey Kildow understands her time will come. For now, however, she knows the slopes belong to Anja Paerson.
Kildow again settled for the silver medal behind Paerson in Sunday’s downhill in which the Swede became the first skier to win world championship titles in all five disciplines. Austria’s Nicole Hosp took the bronze.
Kildow also finished behind Paerson in Tuesday’s super-G. Paerson is in such command that Kildow suspects the Swede would beat her the next time they race.
“I’d bet money on it,” Kildow told The Associated Press.
The men’s race produced another Scandinavian winner, with Aksel Lund Svindal becoming the first Norwegian to win a world downhill.
Jan Hudec won the silver, the best downhill result for a Canadian at the worlds. Sweden’s Patrik Jaerbyn earned the bronze to become at 37 the oldest skier to medal at the worlds. Bode Miller finished seventh and U.S. teammate Steven Nyman was 21st.
“The fact that no other Norwegian won the downhill before, I think that’s just a matter of bad luck, actually,” said Svindal, referring to retired teammates Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus. “Just look at how many medals they got.” Aamodt and Kjus combined for 36 at the Olympics and worlds.
Svindal hurtled down the Olympia course in 1 minute, 44.68 seconds for his first major title. Hudec, who had three knee operations the last three seasons and has never finished among the top three in a World Cup race, was at 1:45.40. Jaerbyn crossed in 1:45.65 for Sweden’s first podium finish in a downhill at a worlds.
The U.S. women now have three medals in three races, with Julia Mancuso also taking the silver behind Paerson in the combined. The American men have been shut out so far.
This was the third straight victory at these worlds for the seemingly unstoppable Paerson, who is making a remarkable turnaround in a season in which she has been winless on the World Cup following offseason knee surgery.
“I had tried to imagine what it would be like to win the downhill and become historic,” Paerson said. “But it’s too big to comprehend.”
Kildow, for one, would like a little bit of what Paerson has.
“I would like to be world champ,” she said. “Anja has more medals than you can count and I’m only starting to get some. But I’m still only 22, and I’ve got plenty of time left in my career.”
Paerson, who already won gold in the giant slalom at the last two worlds and one in the slalom in 2001, beat Miller to the punch with her five-title sweep. The irrepressible American declared before the championship he was going for the sweep and is missing only gold in slalom, his toughest event.
“It’s probably one of the biggest achievements in sports,” Miller said. “You only have so many world championships where you can compete, and only so many where you can be at the peak to win.”
Paerson, the winner of the super-G and combined titles this week, raced down the WM Strecke course in 1 minute, 26.89 seconds.
Kildow made a costly mistake coming off a jump on the upper part of the course. She persevered, though, and still clocked 1:27.29. Hosp finished in 1:27.37.
“I pretty much just threw reason out the window then,” Kildow said. “I turned my brain off after that mistake and just went for it, just tried to tuck as much as possible, to go as straight as possible. I just kept fighting until the end. I was pretty much on autopilot at that point.”
This marked the first U.S. women’s downhill medal at a worlds since Hilary Lindh won at Sestriere, Italy, in 1997, a year after Picabo Street triumphed at the 1996 edition in Sierra Nevada, Spain, with Lindh in third.
It was also the fourth time this week Kildow finished second to Paerson. Aside from the super-G and downhill races, Kildow was second to Paerson in the final downhill training session and in the downhill portion of Friday’s combined race.
“I’m a little bit surprised that she’s holding up so well,” Paerson said. “She was skiing great in the beginning of the season and then she started to make some small mistakes.”
“Coming in here, I think she had a lot of pressure on herself, but she kept on believing in herself,” she added. “She’s a great girl to have around, and in the speed events I think we both push each other to be faster skiers.”
Reigning overall champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia, taking a year off for health reasons, also won three golds at the last worlds in Bormio, Italy ” downhill, combined and slalom.
Paerson will have a chance to top her longtime rival since she is also starting in the slalom, giant slalom and team event next week. Kildow predicted the Swede would win those, too.
“Count on it,” Kildow said.
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