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Sonja Nef Wins Giant Slalom Race

January 4, 2003

BORMIO, Italy (AP) _ Switzerland’s Sonja Nef won for the first time this season Saturday, capturing a giant slalom in which Janica Kostelic crashed near the end of her second run but was not hurt.

Nef, the giant slalom world and World Cup champion, dominated the first run and finished in a combined 2 minutes, 24.39 seconds. Anja Paerson of Sweden was second, 0.27 seconds behind, and Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria was third in 2:25.64.

The top U.S. finishers were Caroline Lalive in 16th place and Sarah Schleper in 18th.

Nef’s victory was the 15th in her World Cup career and the 13th in the giant slalom. She moved into first place in the discipline’s standings, with 305 points.

Kostelic, second after the first run, crashed into the safety nets close to the finish after one of the fastest intermediate times. She walked to the finish area and congratulated Nef, who pumped her fists and shouted after her long-awaited victory.

Kostelic kept a commanding lead in the overall standings, with 955 points from 17 events.

The Croatian became the first skier to win four medals in Alpine events at one Olympics. She had three golds and one silver at Salt Lake City.

Italy’s Karen Putzer failed to capture her third consecutive giant slalom. She finished fourth, 1.46 seconds behind Nef.

The giant slalom and Sunday’s slalom in Bormio originally were scheduled in Berchtesgaden, Germany, but were moved because of warm weather.

Bormio, the host of the 2005 world championship, will hold next weekend’s men’s downhill and slalom. Those races originally were scheduled for Chamonix, France.

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