Lienz: Anja Paerson wins again as Americans get spankedLIENZ, Austria – Anja Paerson of Sweden won the Lienz giant slalom Wednesday, showing she is close to the dominant form that made her the winner of the overall World Cup title the last two years.
‘I’m glad to be back to being my old self where I’m risking it all’ said Paerson after her 29th career victory, which put her in the lead of the GS and overall World Cup standings. ‘I had a really crappy start in the super G and downhill, and I didn’t expect to be up there.’
Skies were overcast on the first run, and the surface was rock-solid but wavy and rough from the beginning. Snow started falling at the beginning of the second run. Paerson won the race in 2 minutes, 9.94 seconds, beating Austrian crowd favorite Niki Hosp by 0.21 seconds. Slovenia’s Tina Maze was third, another 0.19 behind Hosp.
The only two Americans to qualify for the second run, Lindsey Kildow and Kristina Koznick, finished 24th and 25th, respectively. The eight other Americans in the race failed to qualify for the second run. One of them, Sarah Schleper, was in her first World Cup race of the season, having aggravated her back in October and endured surgery in Austria in mid-November.
‘I was attacking it’ said Kildow. ‘I think I’m skiing better than I have been. It’s a step in the right direction.’ After finishing 29th on the first run, Kildow got to start second on the second run. ‘It’s the earliest I’ve ever run, and it was sweet’ said the 2004 Sprint/Ski Racing Junior of the Year, who recently switched to a new pair of giant slalom skis.
It’s the third win of the season for the Swede, the first two being slaloms at Aspen and Spindleruv Mlyn. After winning, Paerson repeated her claim from last week: that she’s focused on the Olympics this season, not the World Cup. But she said she can’t help but notice the red discipline leaders’ jerseys, and hoped that she would be wearing one at the World Cup Finals in her native country in March.
Hosp won the giant slalom in Lienz in 2004. ‘It was really a special feeling, coming here full of confidence’ she said. ‘I’m very happy to make this result, and it’s my first time on the podium this season.’
Maze had never been on the podium here before. She was recently elected by sports journalists in Slovenia as that country’s sportswoman of the year. ‘I was really happy that they choose me’ she said.
The Lienz race Wednesday was the first of two races at the Austrian resort south of Kitzbuehel. The women race slalom on Thursday. Paerson is a favorite in that race. ‘I feel very good in slalom, and the snow is really nice up there’ she said.
Between the women’s runs, the men were in Bormio, Italy, taking part in the second of two training runs there. Daron Rahlves has won both of those runs. Bode Miller took a nasty crash on Wednesday, but was mostly unhurt.
The Lienz giant slalom slope is narrow. There are several dogleg turns, and this year the snow is solid and icy. The hill involves alternating pitches and flats as the course drops toward the town. The American racers said it compared to the Aspen slope. The first- and second-run courses were set, respectively, by Jim Pollock (Canada) and Fritz Zueger (Switzerland).
This was the fourth women’s giant slalom of the World Cup season. The first was the season opener in Soelden, Austria, won by Maze. The next two races came on Dec. 10 at Aspen, Colorado (winner: Maria Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain), and Dec. 21 at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic (winner: Janica Kostelic of Croatia). Between now and the Olympics, the women will race at Maribor, Cortina and Ofterschwang. Only one of those races – Maribor on Jan. 7 – comes before the U.S. Ski Team’s scheduled announcement of its Olympic starters.
How the Americans did
They have seen better days. Only two of 10 starters in the race, Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Kildow, qualified for the second run (finishing 18th and 29th in that run, respectively). Kildow finished the race 24th and Koznick 25th.
The next group finished in a cluster just out of the top 30 necessary to qualify for the second run: Julia Mancuso was 31st, Lauren Ross 33rd, Jess Kelley 34th and Sarah Schleper 36th.
“I wasn’t expecting anything,” said Schleper, who said she trained gates for the first time on Christmas Day. “I just wanted to get back in the start gate.
‘There was not a lot of room for error, because you had to be two seconds out to be in there’ said Kelley, who missed the cut by just 23 hundredths.
Resi Stiegler was 42nd, Kaylin Richardson 49th, Kristin Mielke 51st and Caroline Lalive 55th.
Koz looking for results on paper
Kristina Koznick will bring special determination to her slalom race on Thursday, having been on the podium twice in slaloms at Lienz.
“She’s frustrated because she’s doing well but it’s not showing in the results,” said Dan Stripp, Koznick’s coach, following the Wednesday giant slalom. “We just need to solidify things.”
Koznick trained with Paerson over the holidays in Paerson’s training base at Toblach, Austria. The two of them battled it out in eight training runs on Christmas Day — four in slalom, four in GS.
Stripp said Koz won half the training runs, and when Paerson won, it was only by a few tenths. The courses were 30-35 seconds long.
What to watch for tomorrow
World Cup action continues tomorrow, with a slalom at Lienz (the second run will be set by American coach Trevor Wagner). The men’s World Cup resumes in Bormio, Italy, where Rahlves won today’s training run. Then the women’s World Cup takes a short break and finds its way to Zagreb, Croatia, for a night slalom there on Thursday, Jan. 5. After Bormio, the men’s World Cup will have a full week off before moving on to Adelboden, Switzerland, for a giant slalom and slalom Jan. 7 and 8.
Women’s giant slalom
Dec. 28, 2005
1. Anja Paerson, SWE 2:09.94
2. Nicole Hosp, AUT 2:10.15
3. Tina Maze, SLO 2:10.34
4. Kathrin Zettel, AUT 2:10.38
5. Marlies Schild, AUT 2:10.45
6. Janica Kostelic, CRO 2:10.89
7. Maria Jose Rienda, SPA 2:10.01
8. Manuela Moelgg, ITA 2:11.13
9. Martina Ertl-Renz, GER 2:11.31
10. Anna Ottosson, SWE 2:11.36
11. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 2:11.45
12. Genevieve Simard, CAN 2:11.83
13. Renate Goetschl, AUT 2:11.89
14. Michaela Kirchgasser, AUT 2:11.93
15. Ana Drev, SLO 2:11.96
16. Maria Pietilae-Holmner, SWE 2:12.10
17. Nicole Gius, ITA 2:12.11
18. Silvia Berger, AUT 2:12.32
19. Eveline Rohregger, AUT 2:12.38
20. Nadia Styger, SUI 2:12.42
21. Andrea Fischbacher, AUT 2:12.44
22. Nika Fleiss, CRO 2:12.51
23. Michaela Dorfmeister, AUT 2:12.54
24. Lindsey Kildow, USA 2:12.65
25. Kristina Koznick, USA 2:12.70
26. Alexandra Meissnitzer, AUT 2:12.71
27. Anja Blieninger, GER 2:13.11
28. Brigitte Acton, CAN 2:13.20
29. Annemarie Gerg, GER 2:13.33
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Julia Mancuso, Sarah Schleper, Kristen Mielke, Jessica Kelley, Resi Stiegler, Lauren Ross, Kaylin Richardson, Caroline Lalive, USA; Britt Janyk, CAN.
DNF 2nd: Allison Forsyth, CAN.
By Hank McKee
Women’s GS, Lienz, Dec. 28, 2005
1. Paerson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2. Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
3. Maze, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5. Schild, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
6. Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7. Rienda, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol 8. Moelgg, Fischer/Lange/Fischer 9. Ertl-Renz, Rossignol/Nordica/Rossignol 10. Ottosson, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 28, 2005. … It is the 12th race of the women’s 34 race, two combined World Cup schedule. … It is the fourth of nine scheduled GS’s. … The first of a GS-SL duo at Lienz. … It is the 13th World Cup at the site.
It is the 29th career win for Anja Paerson. … Her 10th in GS (17 in SL, 1 in DH, 1 in SG). … It is her third win of the season and second in two races. … She also won Aspen SL Dec. 11 and Spindleruv-Myln SL Dec. 22. … In four completed races at Lienz since Dec. 2001, Paerson has won three and been third once. … The defending World Cup champion has taken the lead in the current standings.
It is the 17th career podium for Nicole Hosp. … The 10th in GS. … It is her first podium of the season. … She has not missed the podium in any completed race at Lienz. … Paerson and Hosp also went 1-2 in the last race at Lienz, Dec. 28, 2004, SL.
It is the 10th career podium for Tina Maze, eight of them in GS and two in SG. … It is her second podium of the season, having won the opener at Soelden Oct. 22. … It is the second result for Maze at Lienz, the other a ninth-place GS finish Dec. 27, 2003.
It is the 18th time Genevieve Simard has completed a World Cup among the top dozen. … It is the fifth best of her eight scores this season. … It is her best result at Lienz. … It is the ninth score of the season for Lindsey Kildow. … Her third career score in GS and first of the season. … It is the sixth score of the season for Kristina Koznick and fourth in GS. … Koz owns two podiums at Lienz, both in slalom. … It is the fifth scoring result of the season for Brigitte Acton.
Anja Paerson takes the lead in the overall standings 540-532 over Janica Kostelic (sixth in race) while former leader Michaela Dorfmeister (23rd in race) drops to third with 510 points. … Kildow is the top American in the overall standings at fifth with 397 points. … Paerson also holds the GS standings lead 285-270 over Kostelic with Kathrin Zettel (fourth in race) in third at 240. … Genevieve Simard is the top North American on the GS list in 13th with 73 points. … Top American is Koznick in 18th with 42 points. … Winning margin is .21 of a second. … Top seven skiers within the same second. … Top 14 within two seconds. … Of the 35 skiers who did not qualify for a second run, eight of them (22 percent) were Americans and four of them were within three-tenths of a second of qualifying (Julia Mancuso .07, Lauren Russ .21, Jessica Kelley .23 and Sarah Schleper .27).