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17/01/2019 - 04:43
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FIS Ski Federation

Croatian Olympic Comittee
Aspen, CO (USA), 27.11.2004.
20th World Cup win for Janica Kostelic
Janica Kostelic achieved another impressive comeback today in Aspen, Colorado, where she celebrated her 20th World Cup victory in winning the first slalom of the season. She beat by an amazing 1,27 seconds Sweden’s Anja Paerson, the leader in the 2005 Overall World Cup standings while Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen, who clocked the fastest time in the first run, came in 3rd at 1,32. At that point, Janica was 2nd with a delay of 5/100.

Two other Croatian skiers also scored point in that difficult race – tiny Ana Jelusic, who was 18th and Nika Fleiss, 24th. It’s the first time ever that three Croatian skiers finish among the best 30 in a World Cup slalom.

It’s basically her third major comeback that the talented champion from Zagreb celebrated in Aspen in dominating the rest of the field on one of the most demanding courses of the women’s tour. In November 2000, she won the first slalom in Park City eleven month after her dramatic crash in St Moritz. After injuring herself again at a knee during her successful 2001 season, she underwent several operations in the following spring and summer. She had to wait the December races to get back on the World Cup tour and only reached one podium before her fantastic Olympic triumphs in Salt Lake City 2002. Then she won the last World Cup slalom in Flachau.

“This is quite a special comeback,” Janica admitted at the press conference. “I didn’t hurt myself as in the other years but I suffered from this thyroid problem which was something quite unexpected and difficult to control. It started to bother me at the end of the 2003 season and it forced me to skip racing for the entire last season. I have not raced a World Cup slalom since the 2003 Finals in Norway. That’s a long time!”

“After the surgery in February, I had to relax for a long time and wait a while before starting again to train. That’s why I didn’t expect anything special at the season start – even not this morning. I was just hoping for a strong race and some positive feelings. Even after yesterday’s giant slalom, I didn’t expect too much from today.”

“This race was for sure one of the most difficult on the tour. The snow is very hard and the course very long. Nothing comparable with the race from two years ago. This was a tough fight and I skied terribly this morning. I don’t remember skiing so awfully in my entire career, it was incredible and I felt bad. The course was so bumpy and rough - I was quite surprised to be so fast anyway.”

“I skied much better during my second run, I felt more relaxed and I was just going for it. I knew when I saw my time at the arrival that I had a good chance to win this race because I had a strong lead on Anja Paerson.” “Tanja was still up at the start, but she skied so well in the first run that I didn’t believe that she could repeat such an excellent run!”

“It’s definitely a great win – yet I don’t want to say the greatest one because each of them was special. It’s good to be back and be racing again - and tomorrow is just another day. I will again try my best and hopefully have another good race but I will also be pleased with any top-10 finish.”

“I just don’t make any plans for the moment, yet I’m looking forward for the next speed events. I just like skiing fast and downhill is a fun event.”

“I heard that Bode Miller won the first downhill in Lake Louise – this is very inspiring to me. It’s always great to see a four-event athlete excelling in two or three specialties. It will take me some time to find back my rhythm in downhill also because I didn’t train it so much. I just hope to have a good time in Canada after this weekend.”

On Sunday, Janica will of course be again the skier to beat in the second US slalom in which she will wear the leader’s red bib. “I’ll try my best but there are a lot of good skiers out there – I expect the Austrian to be very strong. We will see – as long as I stay healthy, life is nice!”

Patrick Lang

1. Janica Kostelic (CRO) 1:43.70
2. Anja Paerson (SWE) 1:44.97
3. Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) 1:45.02
Ivica Kostelic official website
Croatian ski team official website
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