Kostelic, Gerg Among Super-G Favorites
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ASPEN, Colo. (AP) _ Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic will lead an assault on Aspen Mountain in the first speed race of the World Cup season.
After a slalom and two giant slalom races in Austria and Utah, skiers will compete in a super-G here Friday and a slalom Saturday.
Kostelic has been just about unbeatable the last two seasons when she hasn’t been injured.
After winning the overall and slalom World Cup titles two years ago, she had three knee operations last season. But she regained her form for the Salt Lake City Games, becoming the first Alpine skier to win four medals in a single Olympics.
Kostelic captured gold in the slalom, giant slalom and combined. Although super-G hasn’t been her strongest event, she took silver in that race.
She is off to a fast start this season, having won the last women’s race, a slalom Saturday in Park City, Utah.
Kostelic leads the overall standings with 184 points. Austria’s Nicole Hosp is second with 132, and Switzerland’s Sonja Nef third with 121.
Liechtenstein’s Birgit Heeb-Batliner, who won the giant slalom in Park City, is in a three-way tie for fourth with 100 points.
Germany’s Hilde Gerg also figures to be a strong contender in Friday’s super-G.
Gerg is the defending World Cup super-G champion. She won two super-Gs last season, at Val d’Isere and Cortina, and totaled 355 points. Gerg, who has two Olympic and three World Championship medals, finished fourth in downhill and fifth in super-G at the 2002 Olympics
Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs was sixth in last year’s super-G World Cup standings. Her best super-G finish was a third at Lake Louise.
Another contender should be Italy’s Daniela Ceccarelli, who won the Olympic super-G, edging Kostelic to earn the first international win of her career.
Kostelic, who enjoys racing in the United States, won a slalom in Aspen two years ago. She also won a NorAm slalom on Nov. 17 in Winter Park.
Under a revised starting procedure adopted for super-G races this season, the top 30 racers in the World Cup rankings will start in reverse order, meaning Gerg will start 30th. It’s an attempt to prolong suspense, which typically ebbs after the first 15 or so racers.