Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Schild on winning streak

AP , MARIBOR, SLOVENIA

Marlies Schild of Austria clears the pole during the first run of the fifth World Cup women's slalom competition in Maribor, Slovenia, on Sunday. Schild won the event -- her third World Cup slalom victory of the season.

PHOTO: AFP

Austria's Marlies Schild won her third straight World Cup slalom on Sunday to take a share of the discipline standings lead with Janica Kostelic.

Schild won a crash-filled race in 1 minute, 48.34 seconds for her seventh career victory. She was 0.58 seconds quicker than second-placed Kostelic, with Sweden's Therese Borssen third in 1:49.03.

"It's a good experience to win three races in a row, but it's a long time to the Olympics," said Schild, the medal favorite for the Turin Games. "I hope to keep up my form for then."

Ten skiers crashed or slid out on the second run alone, a day after the soft snow was ruled too dangerous to hold a giant slalom.

One was Austria's Kathrin Zettel, the first run leader, who skid-ded out at the top of the slope. The 19-year-old, whom Kostelic said would one day dominate slalom, was aiming for her first victory.

"I'm very sorry for Kathrin -- I know how she must feel," Schild said. ``The second run was very difficult. I was very tentative.''

On a good day for the Americans, Kristina Koznick of the US matched her best result of the season with fourth in 1:48.91, while Lindsey Kildow had her best slalom showing with 1:50.76 for ninth.

Kostelic and Schild each have 360 points in the slalom standings, although Kostelic extended her lead over Anja Paerson in the overall standings by 732 to 585. The Swede missed a gate after a mistake at the top of the slope.

Kostelic, racing with a swollen hand, moved up from eighth on the first run by posting the best time on the second run with 55.86 seconds.

"At this moment, I'm not really happy with my skiing," the Croat said. "Hopefully, I'm feeling better at the Olympics. I'm tired of starting seventh or eighth, then having to attack."

Kostelic, the three-time Olympic champion, injured her hand last week at her home race in Zagreb, losing her glove and pole early in the second run. The gates banged her bare hand all the way down the slope.

Italy's Giorgio Rocca continued his unbeaten slalom streak this season with his fourth consecutive World Cup victory in the discipline.

The Italian completed the icy and treacherous Chuenisbaergli course in a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 39.14 seconds. Ted Ligety of the US was 0.60 seconds back for a career-best second place, despite a costly mistake midway down.

Slalom world champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, winner of the previous day's giant slalom, was third in 1:39.92.

"It was a very tough slalom, and I was able to make the most of my early start number in the first run," said the 30-year-old Rocca. "Despite a small mistake in the second run, I managed to win, which confirms my mental strength and great confidence.

"But Ted was very courageous and efficient. He started ninth and was still able to get close to me. I expected Ligety to be second behind me, even if Beni [Raich] is skiing smart right now. My real enemy right now is Ted because he is a very strong opponent. Especially in view of the Olympics."

The 21-year-old Ligety took his third podium finish this season, but nearly missed a gate on the final steep pitch.

"It's a great day. I wish I didn't make that mistake," said Ligety, who finished third in slaloms at Beaver Creek, Colorado, and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. "But it was on the steep pitch so it's hard to say how much time I lost. I was able to get right back into it and keep my speed."

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