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(E) Thousands celebrate Croatia's capital first World Cup event
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/19/2005 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Thousands celebrate Croatia's capital first World Cup event


Thousands celebrate Croatia's capital first World Cup event
01-19-2005, 19h48

Vincenzo Pinto - (AFP/File)
ZAGREB, Croatia (AFP) - Some ten thousand people gathered evening at the Croatian capital's main square to attend a public draw and celebrate the hosting of the country's first World Cup skiing event, the women's slalom, a first for a capital.

"Ever since I have started to ski this was my dream. I hope that everyone here is happy. I'll try to do my best tomorrow to win," triple Olympic champion Janica Kostelic, dubbed "the Snow Queen" here, told the crowd.

She spoke from an improvised stage at the Ban Josip Jelacic square after the draw for Thursday's race in which she will start from seventh position.

Organisers of Thursday's event at the mount Sljeme overlooking the capital repeatedly paid tribute to Janica Kostelic and her world men's slalom champion brother Ivica stressing that their great results enabled Zagreb to get the race.

The Kostelic siblings made their skiing debuts on the Sljeme slopes with their father Ante, who was coaching them.

Kostelic said earlier that if she wins on Thursday it would be her most memorable victory in the World Cup. "It think it would be great for Janica that she wins tomorrow. She deserves it as a crown of all her successes," Zeljko Matic, a 21-year-old architecture student, told AFP.

"Tomorrow's event means a lot for us. Zagreb can finally support Janica and repay her for all her successes which made us famous abroad," said Vanda-Sandra Domijan, a 32-year-old fashion designer.

After the draw an open air World Cup party was organised at the square with performances of several popular pop bands and singers.

This season Kostelic made a great comeback on the slopes after missing all of the last campaign with a recurring knee injury and thyroid gland surgery. She is currently second in the overall World Cup standings after 21 races.

The first run on Thursday is due at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) and the second one three hours later.


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