Paerson wins super-G to inaugurate Olympic course
the associated press
SAN SICARIO, Italy ” Sweden’s Anja Paerson won a super giant slalom Friday to inaugurate the course for next year’s Turin Olympics, her first victory in a speed event at the World Cup level.
Paerson boosted her lead in the overall standings and showed her win in the super-G at last month’s world championships was no fluke.
She covered the Fraiteve Olympique course in 1 minute, 31.85 seconds.
Italy’s Isolde Kostner, an early starter, was second, 0.57 seconds behind, for her best result this season. Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister and Slovenia’s Tina Maze tied for third, 0.65 behind. The top American was Lindsey Kildow, 13th.
“I didn’t make one big mistake and maybe that was the problem,” Kildow said. “Maybe I needed to push my line a bit more.”
Paerson leads Janica Kostelic of Croatia 1,061-998 in the overall standings. Kostelic tied for fifth with Hilde Gerg of Germany.
Paerson was behind Kostner at the first checkpoint, then picked up her pace on the bottom section, where several favorites lost time.
“I would never have imagined that I would win the super-G at the world championships and then another in World Cup,” Paerson said. “I knew I had a good run, but I didn’t think I did anything so special.
Something has changed in my style this season and I hope it keeps going.”
Austria’s Renate Goetschl finished seventh and lost her lead in the super-G standings to Dorfmeister with one race remaining in the discipline, next month’s World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Dorfmeister leads Goetschl 393-371. Kildow has 346 points and is the only other skier with a legitimate shot at winning the super-G title.
Kildow, who had two fourth-place finishes at the worlds, was on pace for a top-three finish until losing a big chunk of time on the bottom part of the course.
“I don’t know what happened. It’s a course that’s really, really easy and it’s easy to lose time,” she said. “I’m pretty disappointed. I don’t know if there is any way I can win the title now, but you never know what will happen in the next race.”
Several skiers complained that the layout was too straight and easy for an Olympic super-G course. Dorfmeister suggested that the Olympic super-G should be held on the men’s course in nearby Sestriere, where the women competed at last year’s World Cup finals.
Paerson wasn’t sure of the best solution.
“Sometimes it’s also hard to ski easy courses,” she said. “It makes it more challenging to win.”
A downhill is scheduled for this course Saturday, with a combined Sunday. This weekend marks the final Alpine test for the 2006 Olympics. Friday’s race, held in sunny conditions, was watched by Turin organizing chief Valentino Castellani. The races also are the final stop on the women’s World Cup circuit before Lenzerheide.
Besides Paerson and Kostelic, Dorfmeister and Goetschl are aiming for the overall title. Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen, who came in 39th Friday in a race she said she entered mostly for training, is fourth with 909 points but says her chances for the overall title are gone.
Paerson, last year’s winner, thinks the title will be decided at the final race of the season.
“If you want to win it, I think you’re going to have to work all the way until the slalom race in Lenzerheide,” she said.
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