Paerson making her way back
This year’s Aspen Winternational is missing some big names – Croatia’s Janica Kostelic is sitting out the season to rest, Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister retired and Spain’s Maria Rienda Conteras, last year’s Aspen giant slalom winner, is out with a knee injury. Many also have counted out ailing Swede Anja Paerson.Not so fast. The two-time World Cup overall champion, who underwent surgery on her left knee one month after winning the Olympic slalom, is progressing at a rate even she could not have foreseen, Paerson said Friday. She was back in competition Nov. 11 in Levi, Finland, and finished 12th. The result was promising considering she had not planned on returning to the circuit until the week before Christmas, Paerson said.”I’m feeling great and starting to catch up,” Paerson said. “I’ve trained a lot. I’ve been skiing a lot. I have work to do because I lost 25 ski days. “I hope I can step up.” • U.S. team member Libby Ludlow took her first training runs while wearing a cast to protect her broken right thumb Friday morning.Ludlow sustained the injury in a fall during training last week at Keystone. She will compete in today’s giant slalom. And while the course is familiar, she has not yet adjusted to the cast, Ludlow said. “It’s a distraction more than anything else,” she said. “I had a bad fall, so I’m lucky all I did was break a finger.”Ludlow, who finished 20th in the super G and did not qualify for a second giant slalom run in last season’s Winternational, said her greatest problems will arise when she tries to push off in the start, and when she attempts to clear gates.”It’s an inconvenience I’m not too happy about,” said Ludlow, who felt little pain after completing three runs. “I’ll make the best of it.”• American Lindsey Kildow is battered, but continues to compete.The 22-year-old crashed on a training course in Pitztal, Austria, on Oct. 17 – one week prior to the season-opening World Cup stop in Soelden, Austria – and sustained a bone bruise on her tibia and a tongue laceration. There was no meniscus damage.”It was bad, but it wasn’t horrible news,” Kildow said. “In a perfect world I’d take six weeks off, but I’m happy to be out there.”Kildow overcame a horrific fall in which she hurt her back during downhill Olympic training in Turin. There have been no residual effects from that accident, she said. She hopes this injury has a similar outcome.”I’m fed up with the [stationary] biking,” she joked. “I hope I’ll have enough TV shows to last me this winter.”• Americans Kildow and Julia Mancuso have the drill down pat. They took their seats at two tables in the St. Regis press room Friday afternoon, propped a can of their sponsor’s energy drinks in front of them and waited for the red lights of surrounding video cameras. Park City skier Megan McJames didn’t look quite as comfortable as she sat at a table in the far corner. The environment may take some getting used to, she admitted, flashing a reticent smile. That’s just fine with her. McJames, who won five times last season on the Nor-Am and FIS circuits, will make her first World Cup start today. So, too, will Caitlin Ciccone from Littleton, N. H.”I’m doing fine right now,” McJames said of her pre-race nerves. “I’m just really excited to go out there and ski my best.”The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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