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Slovenian Pavlovcic Wins Men’s GS

March 23, 1999

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ A Slovenian one race away from retirement was the fastest men’s giant slalom skier in the U.S. National Championships on Tuesday. The second-fastest was a developmental team skier who has never raced on the World Cup circuit.

It was that kind of a day at Park City Mountain Resort, as the United States’ best and brightest were outshone by 27-year-old Uros Pavlovcic, who had planned to quit ski racing after the event. Now he’s not so sure.

``I never thought I would win, because the United States has a very strong team,″ Pavlovcic said, a bit charitably given America’s recent international record. ``But I knew I could beat some of them. ... Now I don’t know if it’s time to quit.″

A more familiar script was followed at Snowbasin Ski Resort, where Katie Monahan cemented her status as the nation’s top women’s super-G skier by winning her first national title in the discipline.

Pavlovcic spent the winter skiing for Sierra Nevada College in the Lake Tahoe area, where he won every technical race he entered last season in the USCSA, a league one step below the NCAA.

Since his college eligibility is up, he will be able to keep the first-prize money from his victory. A dispute with the Slovenian national team has kept him out of international competition in recent years, and he said this victory likely won’t change things.

``I skied the last two U.S. Championships, so this is a nice way to finish,″ he said.

Pavlovcic was followed by Andrew Martin, a developmental team member who is a familiar face on the Nor-Am circuit but has yet to make the national team. Martin used a blistering second run to finish in 1 minute, 59.99 seconds, behind only Pavlovcic’s 1:59.59.

``I’ve skied against (the national team) lots of times, and I knew I could beat these guys, but this is the first time I’ve done it in competition,″ he said. ``This tells me that I can ski at the next level. Hopefully I’ll get a chance.″

Martin raced with the U.S. development team in Europe during January and February, ``and I came home broke. Even last week, I wasn’t sure if I’d be out here. But I took a loan on my life insurance, and a couple of grants came through, so ...″

After winning the first run, national team member Thomas Vonn slipped midway through the second run and finished third at 2:00.11. Pre-race favorite Bode Miller, the defending champion, was fourth, followed by Dane Spencer and Chad Fleischer.

In the women’s super-G, Monahan, of Aspen, Colo., closed her breakout season with a race time of 1:15.05, easily outdistancing Megan Gerety’s 1:15.48.

After a miserable day of snow conditions on the same course during Monday’s men’s super-G, workers produced a faster-than-expected course for the women.

``The course workers did a great job, and it helped me because it was more my type of course,″ Monahan said. ``Basically, the course was edge-to-edge, turn-to-turn the whole way down, and I think it turned out to be a little faster than anyone anticipated ... which was good for me, because I’m more experienced in that.″

Monahan had her first World Cup top-20 and top-10 finishes this season, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. She closed the World Cup schedule two weeks ago with a third-place finish and her first podium in SG at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

After fifth-place finishes in the downhill and giant slalom races earlier in the competition, Monahan also has emerged as the favorite to take the combined title.

Gerety and Kjersti Bjorn-Roli, both Alaska natives who have battled knee problems, joined Monahan on the podium.

``My knees are pretty sore right now, so I can’t really risk anything,″ Gerety said. ``It wasn’t like I was really looking for speed too much. (I) just tried to make it down in one piece.″

Kirsten Clark, the national downhill champion, was fourth and Megan Ganong fifth.

The national championships conclude on Wednesday with the men’s and women’s slaloms at Deer Valley.

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