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Hilde Gerg Wins Slalom Victory

January 11, 1998

BORMIO, Italy (AP) _ Hilde Gerg burst the dreams of Kristina Koznick and Ylva Nowen by winning a World Cup slalom race Sunday.

The German beat the American by .27 seconds, preventing Koznick from becoming the first American to win a women’s slalom since 1992.

Gerg’s first career slalom victory also ended Nowen’s winning streak. The newest star of the Swedish team, who had won the previous four slaloms, finished ninth, 1.61 seconds behind the winner.

Gerg had a two-run total time of 1 minute, 35.01 seconds, giving the strong German women’s team its 11th triumph in 19 races this season.

``I concentrated on my own victory, rather on the possibility to end Ylva’s streak,″ Gerg said. ``Ylva had not a great day today. But she is in top slalom form and can come back in the next races.″

Second to Koznick in the first run, .14 seconds behind, Gerg clocked the fastest second run, 47.94, to vault into first.

Earlier this season, Gerg had three runner-up finishes and one third in slaloms.

Koznick, from Burnsville, Minn., was .41 seconds slower than Gerg in the second run and blamed her lack of speed in the bottom part of the course for her defeat.

``I usually ski better on flat,″ she said. ``In today’s second run, I was definitely better on steep.″

The most consistent U.S. slalom skier this season, Koznick was not disappointed for missing a ``historical″ opportunity.

``I’m very happy, instead, because I’m getting better and better in each race,″ she said. ``I hope to be perfect by the Nagano Olympics.″

Koznick, who missed nearly seven months of training last year with a nagging back injury, has had two runner-up finishes and two fourth places in slaloms this season. She had never finished better than 10th in the five previous years.

``Leading the first run is an experience nobody can take from me,″ she said. ``I needed to test my reaction under pressure. I’m on the right track.″

Koznick had been hoping to become the first American to win a slalom since Julie Parisien in November 1992. Next month, she will try and become the first American to win an Olympic slalom title since Barbara Cochrane in 1972.

Tasha Nelson, Koznick’s longtime friend, was the only other American to finish Sunday’s slalom, placing 26th, 3.38 seconds behind the winner.

Parisien did not finish the first run.

Spela Pretnar of Slovenia was third, .51 seconds back.

Italy’s Deborah Compagnoni placed seventh, rallying from 12th after the first run. The world and Olympic champion lost her first giant slalom in a year Saturday.

Germany’s Katja Seizinger, who had a streak of six consecutive wins in downhill and super-G last month, placed 14th, but still earned 18 points to hold a commanding lead in the overall standings with 1,079 points. Gerg is second with 902 and Compagnoni third with 781.

Nowen remained atop the slalom standings with 509 points in six races. Koznick is second with 350.

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