Internationals renew rivalries in Aspen
Janica Kostelic didn’t just scorch the women’s World Cup slalom field Saturday at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah – she sent her competitors a forceful message.
The 18-year-old Croatian racer posted the fastest times on each run and bested second-place finisher Martina Ertl of Germany by more than a second and a half, a blowout margin by World Cup standards.
In 20th place, more than four seconds off the pace, was Renate Goetschl of Austria. Goetschl skied to overall World Cup and super-G titles last winter – that is, after Kostelic went down with a knee injury with the overall World Cup title lead in hand.
A Dec. 16, 1999, crash at St. Moritz tore ligaments in Kostelic’s right knee and abruptly ended the youngster’s overall World Cup title chase. But if Saturday’s slalom is any indication, the setback served to toughen her resolve to come back and win.
“She certainly didn’t look like she was having any problem with her knee,” said Paul Robbins, a correspondent with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team who covered the Park City races. “Especially since she led so handily in each run.”
Contrary to the men’s World Cup circuit, where racers typically focus on technical events (slalom and giant slalom) or speed events (super-G or downhill), Kostelic and many of the top women skiers compete in all four events.
“She’ll certainly be one to watch” this weekend in Aspen, said Robbins.
German Martina Ertl, the second-place finisher to Kostelic in last Saturday’s slalom, “is someone else to look for,” the 20-year U.S. Ski Team correspondent noted.
Ertl is the only German woman to race technical events (S and GS), though she excels in the speed events.
“She’s an outstanding four-event skier,” Robbins said. “You should see her do well on both days in Aspen.”
Last winter’s World Cup slalom champion – having posted six victories – Spela Pretnar of Slovenia could find her way to the podium in Saturday’s slalom. Pretnar took fourth at Park City’s slalom Saturday.
French racer Christel Saioni, who finished third in the Park City slalom, ahead of Pretnar and behind Ertl, is also likely to be a factor Saturday. Saioni finished second to Pretnar in the World Cup slalom title last winter, just ahead of Swedish racer Anja Paerson, who is also expected to race Saturday.
Austrian powerhouse Michaela Dorfmeister, who claimed the World Cup giant slalom title last winter, is also a natural in the super-G event and finished seventh overall in the discipline last winter, and placed second to teammate Goetschl in the overall World Cup title hunt.
Canadian Melanie Turgeon, the second-place finisher in the overall World Cup super G last winter, will also be a threat in Friday’s race.
On the American side, Kristina Koznick of Minnesota and Sarah Schleper of Vail are the host nation favorites in the slalom. Koznick won two World Cup slaloms last March and has been the top U.S. finisher in this season’s events.
In the super G, Kirsten Clark of Maine and Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs are America’s most promising racers, according to Robbins.
Robbins also said to look for some of the U.S. team’s up-and-coming racers: Lindsey Kildow of Vail, Julia Mancuso of Tahoe City, Calif., and Alison Powers of Winter Park.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.