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22/11/2017 - 19:23
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FIS Ski Federation

Croatian Olympic Comittee
Bormio (ITA), 04.02.2005.
Janica in the lead after combined downhill
Croatia's Janica Kostelic achieved quite an impressive performance today in clocking the fastest time in the combined downhill, the first part of the three-run combined competition held by perfect weather and course condition on the "Deborah Compagnoni" course. It's Janica's first major win in that specialty!

The triple Olympic champion beat by 66/100 of a second her strongest rival for a third consecutive gold medal in that event, Sweden's Anja Paerson, while Austria's Renate Goetschl tied for 3rd place with USA's Lidnsey Kildow. Marlies Schild, another strong contender for the title, was only a far 19th at 2,31 seconds - quite a delay to make up in the two slalom runs later on this afternoon.

Elisabeth Goergl, also an excellent slalom specialist, was a promising 7th only 1,19 behind the leader.

Janica, who has made strong progress in downhill this winter - she was 2nd last month in Cortina d'Ampezzo - was pretty pleased by her run down the "Deborah Compagnoni" course. "I skied well, I was focused and relaxed," she said. "I felt
comfortable but there is still a long way to go. My advance on Anja is not so big and it will be an interesting battle. I'm just aiming for two strong runs and then we will see."

Janica, who skipped the Super-G race last week to better prepare this combined, took some rest at Selce at the Adriatic coast before getting back to train. She also received some treatment at her injured knee in Switzerland, so she felt pretty
fit before this competition.

The battle between the last two Overall World Cup Champions promises to be quite exciting in the next two slalom runs. Paerson, who clinched her third gold medal last Sunday in winning her first ever Super-G, feels confident in slalom after her recent win in Maribor. Yet she was hoping to achieve a better downhill today. "I had a problem right after the start and I'm not so happy with my skiing in the lower part," she said to her coach after her run. "I was hoping for a better run." She will fight as usual hard until the last gate later on today.

Earlier this week, she said in a press conference that she is not considering herself as a favorite for this combined title since it's her first ever entry. "I don't know how I'll feel in slalom after using the long downhill skis," she explained. "I never entered a combined and I don't have as much experience in this event as the other skiers. I'm just going out there trying my best. Any medal would be nice."

In case of another triumph, Anja would become the first skier to have clinched gold medals in four different events. Other top champions as Kostelic, Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg, or France's Marielle Goitschel have won gold in three specialties - but not in four! Janica has won five gold medals in slalom, giant slalom and combined since 2002.

Patrick Lang
Ivica Kostelic official website
Croatian ski team official website
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