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Paerson enjoying herself more this season

AP Photo Anja Paerson of Sweden, center, winner of an alpine ski women's World Cup Super-G race, celebrates on the podium with second placed Julia Mancuso of the United States, left, and third placed Lindsey Kildow of the United States, Friday in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
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CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Anja Paerson is enjoying this season even though she probably won’t win her third consecutive overall World Cup title. This year, there’s a bigger prize – the Olympics.Paerson won a super-G World Cup race Friday, the final one before the Turin Games, and proved she’s ready to compete for gold when the games begin Feb. 10.”I knew coming here I felt good, I knew if I got down I was going to be fast,” Paerson said. Americans Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Kildow also showed they’re ready for the Olympics. Mancuso finished second for her first World Cup podium, and Kildow was third.A snowstorm delayed the start of the race for 2 1/2 hours and made for poor visibility.

Paerson struggled to see through tears caused by the weather and was forced to rely largely on her intuition.”I just trusted my skis and told myself, ‘Don’t worry about the snow, you’re not going to see it anyway,”‘ Paerson said.Paerson covered the Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 16.75 seconds. Mancuso finished 0.34 seconds behind, and Kildow was 0.78 back.Kostelic finished fourth, 1.02 seconds out, and held onto her overall lead with 1,208 points. Michaela Dorfmeister is second with 970 points and Paerson is third with 901.Austria’s trio of speed experts – Alexandra Meissnitzer, Renate Goetschl and Dorfmeister – struggled.Meissnitzer was seventh, Goetschl was eighth and Dorfmeister was 10th – her first non-podium finish in super-G this season. She still leads the discipline standings.

Several skiers crashed – many of them on a tricky final jump – and nine skiers did not finish.It was Paerson’s fifth win this season and her first in super-G since taking the gold medal at last season’s world championships. It gave her wins in all four disciplines for the second consecutive season.Paerson would also like to win a combined race to finish the season with wins in five different events. She will get her chance in Hafjell, Norway, in March.”I’m going to try for it. Hopefully I’ll have some strength left after the Olympics,” she said.Mancuso finally finished on the podium following four fourth-place finishes the past two seasons. She won two bronze medals at last season’s world championships.”World championships and Olympics are more prestigious events, but I feel more confident having a podium on the World Cup,” Mancuso said.



Mancuso has Italian origins and was asked after the race if she would ever consider gaining Italian citizenship to help the struggling Italian women’s team.”Italy will always be part of my roots, but I’m a California girl,” Mancuso said.It was the second time two American women finished on the podium this season. Kildow and Caroline Lalive finished 1-2 in a downhill at Val d’Isere on Dec. 17.Kildow is looking to the Olympics, too.”World Cups are important because you have to ski well and gain confidence for the Olympics,” Kildow said. “You have to have other goals besides the Olympics because the Olympics is only one race.”


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