Janica Kostelic claims historic downhill title for Croatia
Janica Kostelic of Croatia takes a curve to win women's downhill race at the Alpine Ski World Championship in the northern Italian resort of Santa Caterina, February 6, 2005. Kostelic won ahead of Elena Fanchini of Italy and Renate Goetschl of Austria. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Croatia's Janica Kostelic celebrates on the podium after winning the gold medal in the Women's Downhill at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy, Sunday Feb. 6, 2005. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
The women's downhill event three medalists L-R silver medal Elena Fanchini of Italy, gold medal Janica Kostelic of Croatia and bronze medal Renate Goetschl of Austria pose on the podium at the Alpine skiing World Championship in Santa Caterina, February 6, 2005. REUTERS/Andreas Meier
Kostelic claims historic downhill title for Croatia
Thomas Coex - (AFP)
SANTA CATERINA, Italy (AFP) - Triple Olympic champion Janica Kostelic claimed her second crown of the world ski championships when she won the women's downhill.
Kostelic, the winner of the women's combined a few days ago, hit speeds of over 122 km/h to dislodge early leader Elena Fanchini of Italy from the leaderboard with a winning time of 1min 39.90sec.
Fanchini, with a time of 1:40.16, eventually finished in second having led the race for nearly an hour having started with bib number eight.
The 19-year-old Italian did however pick up what will be a valuable silver medal after Austria's former world downhill champion Renate Gotschl could only finish in third.
Kostelic, who has been more of a slalom/combined specialist, exploded with joy upon realising that she had won the title, her fourth world title overall and the first world downhill title won by a Croatian
"It's fantastic, it is incredible, I just never expected a result like this. It is just so nice," she said.
"When I saw Fanchini's time I thought we might as well go home, I thought no one could catch that time.
"But I was relaxed and had a smooth run and to win a downhill gold medal is simply incredible for me," added Kostelic, who has also won the slalom world title, in 2003, and two combined titles.
Sweden's reigning World Cup champion Anja Paerson, the winner of the women's super-G title here and a runner-up in the combined behind Kostelic, could only finish in seventh place after losing time on the second half of her run during which she had led her Croatian rival.
The 23-year-old Kostelic's victory was all the more special as she has only returned to World Cup skiing this season having spent the whole of the 2003/04 season sidelined, nursing knee injuries and having thyroid surgery.
Kostelic made history at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 when she became the first women to win three gold medals in alpine Olympic events.
Michaela Dorfmeister, one of the co-favourites for the title, crashed out shortly after landing from the main jump after her left ski pulled away from her.
The Austrian sustained no serious injuries in the crash.
American Lindsey Kildow, a bronze medal winner from the super-G, just missed out on the bronze this time, coming fourth at 0.62 adrift of Kostelic.