Paerson wins overall
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland – Anja Paerson woke up Sunday, learned the final race of the season was delayed and calculated what she needed to do to beat Janica Kostelic for her second consecutive overall World Cup title.She couldn’t have possibly calculated this: The Swede won with the smallest margin of victory – three points – since skiing’s current point system was introduced 13 years ago. She also tied the smallest margin in the 38-season history of the World Cup, courtesy of a 0.09-second time differential.In fact, the battle between the two top female skiers came down to the final racer of the season-ending giant slalom, Paerson’s specialty.
“Janica and I were both standing there in the finish and we weren’t sure who was going to win. That’s the way ski racing should be,” Paerson said. “I woke up really early this morning and saw the weather and wasn’t really positive about it. But I was already calculating where I needed to be.”Among the men, Mario Matt won a slalom for his first victory in more than four years. Benjamin Raich had already clinched the season’s slalom title.After all the racing was complete, Bode Miller received his overall trophy, a title that was sealed Saturday when he became the first American overall winner in 22 years.
The women’s race was won by Maria Jose Rienda Contreras, the last skier of the day who won with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 20.18 seconds. Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen was 0.30 behind, and Austria’s Nicole Hosp of Austria was third, 0.51 back.Paerson began Sunday with a 35-point lead over Kostelic in the overall standings, and she would have automatically won the title by finishing ahead of the Croat.The Swede seemed on track for the title in the opening leg, finishing ahead of Kostelic, but things got tricky for Paerson in the second run. Kostelic was fourth after her run. Paerson, running next, was uncharacteristically slow, finishing just within the points in 13th place with four racers to go.
Kostelic could have secured the title by finishing seventh or higher as long Paerson fell out of the top 15, the only positions to score points at World Cup finals.With one skier left, Kostelic was seventh and Paerson was already out of the top 15. But Rienda Contreras of Spain delivered a sizzling final run to win and give Paerson the overall title by bumping Kostelic to eighth. Paerson ended up 17th.The difference between Kostelic and seventh-place Martina Ertl of Germany was 0.09 seconds.Vail, Colorado