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FIS Ski Federation

Croatian Olympic Comittee
St. Moritz (SUI), 14.02.2003.
Janica Kostelic and Anja Paerson aiming for more gold in slalom
Saturday’s women’s slalom should be one of the most dramatic of the past years. Two of the greatest stars of the women’s tour will be fighting for another triumph here. On one side, the Olympic Champion and two-time World Cup winner Janica Kostelic and on the other the tough Swede Anja Paerson, always charging as soon as the clock begins to tick!

Sweden’s Anja Paerson is more than happy to have clinched another gold medal in Thursday’s giant slalom two years after capturing gold in slalom in St Anton. But don’t believe that the explosive Scandinavian, who turns 22 in April, is totally satisfied with this fifth medal since 2001 – she aims for more gold in Saturday’s slalom to become the first female athlete to successfully defend a slalom title in modern ski racing.

Paerson’s duel with Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, the new combined champion, should be particularly intense even if the 21-year-old champion from Zagreb is handicapped by several injuries.
Kostelic is racing for a week with a very painful right knee and on Thursday, she suffered strong bruises at her shoulder and her right hand after violently straddling a gate on her way down the second run.

Their rivals as Austria’s Nicole Hosp, the revelation of the season in the technical events and a solid 2nd in the combined here, France’s Laure Pequegnot, Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen or Swiss Sonja Nef, only 8th in the last giant slalom after losing one of her poles in the upper part of the second run, can only hope that the two superstars of the women’s circuit make errors to have a realistic chance to beat them.
This season, both favorites crushed their rivals in the slalom races -
Janica won four of them and Anja the reaming three!

Since her debuts on the World Cup tour in 1998, Kostelic finished all her slalom except at the 2001 World Championships in St Anton where she skied out in the combined race, giving away her first chance for a gold medal.
Even when she feels bad or seriously ill as last month in Maribor where she was 2nd despite suffering from nausea, Janica is always giving her best to ski fast.

She fought very hard to celebrate an important success last week in the combined, beating Hosp by only a few hundredths at the end of all three races. Despite her bad right knee which she injured several years ago, she wanted to compete in the giant slalom afterwards.
“Someone had to attach me with a rope to prevent me to race on such a nice slope and by such a gorgeous weather” she said with humor to the Croatian Press before that race.

Janica, as USA’s Bode Miller, is the only champion to have taken part in all the races this winter. And as the American double gold medallist here, her main goal this season is to conquer the Crystal Globe awarded to the overall World Cup champion in four weeks during the Finals in Lillehammer, Norway.
“The World Cup means more to me than a gold medal a the Worlds but now that I got one, I’m happy because I have won all the titles given out in alpine ski racing. My fans can be happy too and I’ll be relaxed for the coming events” she said after her victory in the combined.
In fact, Janica is more preoccupied by her health than Saturday’s race. On Monday, her right knee will be checked in Zagreb. “I hope to be able to compete in the next weeks and collect my Cups in Norway” she said.
“It’s normal for people to expect me to win here because I did so well this winter and I’m also hoping to achieve a good race” she said at a press meeting on Friday afternoon.
“I would not be racing tomorrow if I didn’t believe in my chances to get a medal. It will not be easy because my right arm is in bad shape and I’ll not be able to push very hard on my poles on the first flat section. Fortunately, the slope is steeper afterwards. I’ll do my best as usual. I’ll be pleased with any medal”.

Anja is not as relaxed as Janica. The skier from Taernaby only enjoys to ski as fast as possible and win races by huge margins. In fact she was 1,55 seconds ahead of her next rival in Thursday’s race – a huge difference!
The course conditions could be decisive. On an icy course as in Aspen, Colorado, the aggressive Paerson is difficult to beat but Kostelic is faster on smoother snow which requires more sensitive skiing.

Their style is as different as they character – but both hates to lose. This slalom got to be a summit of these World Championships!
Ivica Kostelic official website
Croatian ski team official website
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