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(E) Kostelic Wins World Cup Giant Slalom
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  12/22/2005 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Kostelic Wins World Cup Giant Slalom


Kostelic Wins World Cup Giant Slalom
12.21.2005, 10:44 AM

Janica Kostelic of Croatia rallied on the second run Wednesday and got the first World Cup giant slalom victory of her career.  Kostelic, third after opening leg, covered the Cerna course in a combined time of 2 minutes, 21.30 seconds to win the first World Cup alpine race held in the Czech Republic.

She performed a particularly skillful cartwheel in ski boots in the finish area after she saw the last skier come down, then clambered over the barrier to kiss her father and coach.

"I guess this is proof I can win GS," Kostelic said. "It's a special feeling because when you wait for something so long it makes you so happy, but there is no time to celebrate because there's another race tomorrow."

Kathrin Zettel of Austria was second in 2:21.38, followed by teammate Marlies Schild in 2:21.40. Kostelic leads the giant slalom standings with 230 points, 40 more than Zettel.

Kostelic also is third in the overall standings. Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria leads with 502 points, 80 more than teammate Alexandra Meissnitzer. Kostelic is another 10 points back.

Kostelic won three gold medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics and has two overall World Cup titles. She also took the world championship in the downhill, slalom and combined last winter in Bormio, Italy.

It was the 22nd World Cup victory for Kostelic, a multi-medal favorite heading into the Turin Olympics.

The top American was Julia Mancuso, who finished 14th, 1:19 off the pace. Mancuso, the world championship bronze medalist in the slalom last winter, crashed in the finish area after the first leg but was unhurt. Teammate Kristina Koznick, fourth following the opening leg, dropped to 16th after making a mistake on the second run.

It was the first victory of the season for Kostelic, who had surgery on her right knee in June. It was the most recent operation in a career disrupted by injury and illness.

Kostelic finished runner-up in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, and fourth in Aspen, Colo. She also was second in the slalom in Aspen.

After undergoing three knee operations and having her thyroid removed, she missed the entire 2003-04 season only to come back last season and win three world titles.

Nicole Hosp of Austria was the fastest in the first leg but slipped to fourth after the second run.


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