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All North American Competitors Finish in Top Five

February 18, 1996

SIERRA NEVADA, Spain (AP) _ Four North Americans raced in the women’s downhill Sunday at the World Alpine Skiing Championships and they all finished in the top five.

``I think it’s an unbelievable day for the USA and I think it’s a beginning of a great future for our team,″ Picabo Street said after he victory. ``It gives us a lot of confidence that we can work together and use each other to be motivated.″

Katja Seizinger of Germany, the 1994 Olympic downhill champion, finished second to Street, who lives in Idaho.

``I think that it was really a big challenge for me today to come into the race being the favorite and then to overcome all the pressure and to ski well under it,″ Street said. ``For me, that was a really big deal.″

While Street’s victory may have been expected, the other results were surprising.

The 1992 Olympic downhill silver medalist, Hilary Lindh of Juneau, Alaska, lacked a top-three finish this season in World Cup until Sunday’s bronze medal.

Kate Pace Lindsay of Canada, the defending world downhill champion, finished just .01 seconds behind Lindh in fourth. Lindsay Pace, 27, also had a mediocre season prior to the worlds with a top finish of seventh.

The Canadian is working her way back from a bad crash nearly two years ago and an injured knee earlier this season.

Megan Gerety, a 24-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, finished fifth.

The North American said the Europeans are at a disadvantage at big events such as the worlds, where each country is limited to four skiers per event.

On the relatively flat and easy course, fast skis and good gliding skills were also a factor.

``I don’t think it’s a secret that all three of us are good gliders and that we excel on courses that are fast and have a lot of terrain,″ Lindh said, referring to her American teammates.

Gerety explained the North American success this way: ``The sun is out. We have natural snow like this, a gliding course and the Americans usually do really well. It’s kind of like racing in Vail or something.″

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