Paerson takes World Cup overall lead with GS win
LIENZ, Austria – Defending champion Anja Paerson took the lead in the World Cup overall standings for the first time this season with a victory Wednesday in the giant slalom.The Swede, who also claimed the lead in giant slalom points, was clocked in 2 minutes, 9.94 seconds. She was 0.21 faster than Nicole Hosp of Austria.Meanwhile, the Americans failed to place a skier among the top 20 for the first time of the season. Lindsey Kildow finished 24th, one spot ahead of compatriot Kristina Koznick.Kildow is a speed specialist increasingly focusing on the technical disciplines and still learning.”I was attacking it. I skied aggressively but I made mistakes,” said Kildow, whose best career giant slalom finish was ninth last season. “I think I’m skiing better than I have been. It’s a step in the right direction.”It was a particularly disappointing result for Koznick, who has reached the podium twice here, though both finishes were in slalom races.Paerson passed previous leader Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria and Janica Kostelic of Croatia in the overall standings. Dorfmeister finished 23rd. Kostelic, who lost the giant slalom points lead, was sixth.”I had a really bad start in the super-G and downhill, and I didn’t expect to be up there,” Paerson said of the overall after her 29th World Cup victory. “The Olympics are really what I’m counting on.”Of course I notice when I’m wearing the red (leader’s) bib in the start, but it’s nothing I’m focusing on right now.”It was the first giant slalom victory this season for Paerson, who won slaloms earlier this month in Aspen, Colo., and Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic.Paerson was aggressive on both runs. She was the fastest on the first at 1:05.99. Her time of 1:03.95 on the second was just .02 off that of heat leader Hosp.”I’m glad to be back to being my old self, where I’m risking it all,” Paerson said. “I’m making a lot of mistakes, but still doing well overall.”Hosp was fourth after the opening leg, but made the podium for the first time this season with the fastest final run.The Austrian is seeking first victory since taking the giant slalom here two years ago. Hosp broke an ankle jogging a month later and was sidelined for the rest of that season.”I’ve had good results here in the past, so I came here full of confidence,” she said.Tina Maze of Slovenia, who won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, finished third, 0.40 behind.”Obviously, Austria’s my lucky place,” said Maze, voted sportswoman of the year in Slovenia. “I didn’t do so good in America and Spindleruv Mlyn, so this is kind of nice to be back.”Only two of 10 Americans qualified for the second run.Julia Mancuso, still using replacement boots after forgetting her racing pair earlier this month in Lake Louise, Alberta, was 31st her only time down the slope. Lauren Ross was 33rd and Jess Kelley 34th.Sarah Schleper, in her first World Cup race since reinjuring her back and undergoing surgery in November, was 36th.”I wasn’t expecting anything. I just wanted to get back in the start gate,” Schleper said.Resi Stiegler was 42nd, Kaylin Richardson was 49th, Kristin Mielke 51st and Caroline Lalive 55th.Paerson leads the overall standings with 540 points, eight more than Kostelic. Dorfmeister is third with 510 points.The Swede leads the giant slalom standings with 285 points. Kostelic has 270. Kathrin Zettel of Austria is third with 240.Vail, Colorado
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