Zettel leads Austrian sweep in giant slalom | AspenTimes.com

Zettel leads Austrian sweep in giant slalom

Andrew Dampf
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kathrin Zettel, of Austria, passes a gate on her way to winning an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Armando Trovati)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy ” Kathrin Zettel led an Austrian sweep in a women’s giant slalom on Sunday, and Lindsey Vonn of the United States extended her overall World Cup lead by finishing 10th.

Zettel, who was second after the opening run on the Olympia delle Tofane course, won in 2 minutes, 47.10 seconds, finishing 1.39 ahead of Michaela Kirchgasser and 1.71 better than Elisabeth Goergl.

Vonn extended her lead in the overall standings on Maria Riesch, who did not finish the opening run, and Anja Paerson, who placed 18th after nearly skiing off course a few gates from the finish.

Vonn finished fourth in a GS in Aspen, Colo., earlier this season, but has never cracked the top three in her weakest discipline. She leads the overall standings with 882 points, followed by Riesch with 810 and Paerson with 775.

Paerson raced despite bruising her left knee in Saturday’s downhill.

“She still feels pain, but it’s OK,” Swedish team spokesman Jung Lind said.

Zettel increased her lead at every interval and has now won three of the six giant slalom races this season. She moved one point ahead of Tanja Poutiainen to lead the giant slalom standings, 369-368.

A blizzard that dumped more than 4 feet of snow on the course earlier in the week made for soft and precarious conditions.

“I took some wider turns so as not to put too much pressure on the skis,” Zettel said. “I didn’t always choose the most direct line.”

In Saturday’s downhill, the top Austrian was Ingrid Rumpfhuber in 12th place. It marked the first time after 121 women’s downhills that skiing’s “Wunderteam” failed to place a skier in the top 10.

“It really woke us up,” Zettel said. “There was a lot of teamwork involved today and everything worked to perfection. We talked a lot with the coaches and ski men after yesterday and we really focused.”

Goergl led the opening run and was on pace for victory until she fell at the penultimate gate in the second leg. She managed to get back and preserve the Austrian sweep.

“I took too direct of a line there,” Goergl said. “I was disappointed but also happy that I was able to secure third.”

Saturday’s downhill marked a low-point for an Austrian team that has already weathered the loss to injury of its top two skiers this season ” Nicole Hosp and Marlies Schild.

Zettel is the only Austrian woman to win this season.

“The whole season has been tough,” Goergl said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries and the coaches have done a good job of keeping us focused.”

The race was held in sunny and clear conditions.

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