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Wiberg takes downhill, overall lead

December 28, 1996

SEMMERING, Austria (AP) _ Sweden’s Pernilla Wiberg skied fastest on both runs Saturday to win a World Cup slalom and take the lead in the overall standings.

Wiberg, skiing first on the opening run, had a total time of 1 minute, 42.76 seconds, 1.12 seconds ahead of Deborah Compagnoni of Italy. Austria’s Anita Wachter was third at 1:43.94, her best slalom result since 1993.

Wiberg moved ahead of Germany’s Katja Seizinger in the overall standings. The Swede has 562 points and Seizinger, a downhill specialist, has 494. Seizinger was not racing Saturday or in another slalom scheduled for Sunday.

Wiberg, seen by many as the best all-around woman skier on the World Cup circuit, won at Semmering last year. This was the 15th World Cup victory of her career and second this season. She had finished second in both previous slaloms this season.

``I looked at the slope yesterday and saw it was very hard and difficult, and I knew I could do it,″ Wiberg said. ``I said to myself, just go for it in both runs, and I’m very happy.″

Wiberg said she started the season aiming for the slalom World Cup title and hopes for a medal in super-G or downhill at the world championships. As for the overall World Cup title, she said, ``I’m not counting on it.″

Compagnoni, a super-G and giant slalom specialist, skied a fast first run for sixth place and went all out on the second run for a total 1:43.88.

Wachter, just six-hundredths of a second behind the Italian, seemed surprised by her strong showing.

``I’m very, very happy,″ she said. ``I hardly trained slalom at all this season. I’ll train a bit more now.″

She is fourth in the overall standings with 285 points. Germany’s Hilde Gerg is third with 415.

Claudia Riegler, the Austrian who skies for New Zealand and won both previous slaloms this season, finished ninth Saturday.

In subfreezing temperatures, she skied too cautiously on the icy slop, making mistakes at the top of the second run for a total time of 1:44.84.

Elfi Eder, the Austrian who delighted the home crowd by winning the second slalom at Semmering last year, finished fourth overall i 1:44.50, her best result this season.

Slovenia’s Urska Hrovat had a sensational second run, clocking the second-best time of 51.90 to move up to seventh place overall.

Sweden’s Titti Rodling, who missed a gate on the first run, sustained a concussion when she fell during training, and Switzerland’s Karin Roten, who finished eighth, injured her knee and might miss Sunday’s race.

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