ASPEN, Colorado, Reuters
Janica Kostelic of Croatia picked up where she left off a week ago by winning her second consecutive World Cup women’s slalom on Saturday.
Taking a lead of more than half a second from the first run down Aspen’s Ajax Mountain, the 18-year-old Croatian held on for a two-run winning time of one minute, 23.19 seconds.
Martina Ertl of Germany came in second, 0.84 seconds back in 104.03 for a repeat of the top two order of finish in the first women’s slalom of the World Cup season at Park City, Utah, last weekend.
American Kristina Koznick was third with a time of 104.12.
Appearing poised and relaxed on a soft course that grew increasingly rutted after two inches (5 cm) of fresh snow fell early Saturday morning, Kostelic proved once more that her skiing has not suffered from a knee injury that prematurely ended her World Cup season last year. “It was a really easy course,” Kostelic said after her first slalom race in Aspen. “I call it a Mickey Mouse course.” Kostelic made the course look easy, but several other skiers failed to complete the race or had difficulty. Reigning World Cup slalom champion Spela Pretnar of Slovenia, who stood second after the first run, had a disappointing second trip down the course and settled for ninth place in 104.63. She finished .06 seconds ahead of Christel Saioni of France, who was ranked second in slalom entering this year’s World Cup season. While skiing to near perfection, Kostelic says that her knee still gives her some pain. “But I’m not thinking about it,” she said. Ertl is also off to a sensational start to the season, following a fourth-place finish in Friday’s first super-G race of the season with her second podium in a technical event in as many weeks.