Paerson still has a chance for title; men’s arrival delayed
ARE, Sweden ” Anja Paerson posted the fastest time in training Monday, and her slim chances of defending her overall title got a boost when Janica Kostelic withdrew from the final World Cup downhill.
The Olympic bronze medalist trails Kostelic by 254 points, but there are four races and 400 points still up for grabs.
The defending overall champion finished in 1 minute, 25.76 seconds on the WM Strecke ” the site of next winter’s world championships ” as Kostelic watched from the finish area.
“I just don’t want to do the downhill,” Kostelic said.
Olympic downhill champion Michaela Dorfmeister, who won the World Cup downhill title and will retire after this week’s finals, was .19 seconds behind in second. Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland was third.
Croatia ski team director Vedran Pavlek said the schedule of the finals was too tight for Kostelic, who is focusing on the three other events ” super-G, giant slalom and slalom.
“She’s taking a little break. It’s just too many races for her right now, at the end of the season,” Pavlek said.
Kostelic, who clinched the slalom title after finishing runner-up to Paerson on Saturday in Levi, Finland, complained of back troubles the previous week in Hafjell, Norway. The Croat also sat out sick for two races at the Turin Games but still won gold in combined and silver in super-G for a record four career Olympic golds.
Paerson, another all-arounder with a heavy schedule, will likely have knee surgery at the end of the season.
Only the women’s overall and giant slalom titles remain up for grabs. Dorfmeister has also secured the super-G World Cup crystal globe.
On the men’s side, only the overall title has been decided. Benjamin Raich clinched that title with his fourth-place finish in Saturday’s slalom in Japan.
Both the women’s and men’s final downhills are slated for Wednesday, the first day of the World Cup Finals, which run through Sunday.
The men are expected to train Tuesday, though many have not yet arrived. Mechanical problems delayed a flight with World Cup racers in Tokyo.
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