Compagnoni takes giant slalom for fourth win this season
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) _ Ever more the female version of compatriot Alberto Tomba, Italy’s Deborah Compagnoni won for the fourth time this season, beating German Katja Seizinger handily Sunday in a giant slalom race.
The victory, by nearly six-tenths of a second, was the 11th on the women’s World Cup circuit for the 26-year-old skier from Santa Caterina. It also was her third consecutive giant slalom victory, giving her team its third triumph in as many days at Cortina.
``I don’t know how Alberto feels after a winning streak,″ said Compagnoni, her nation’s most successful female skier. ``I can say I feel great.″
Although Tomba didn’t win Sunday at Kitzbuehel, he finished second in his comeback. The Italian ace, with a record 47 World Cup victories to his credit, had taken a few weeks off to heal some injuries and begin preparations for the World Alpine Championships next month.
Isolde Kostner, who did not finish Sunday, won a downhill Friday and a super giant slalom Saturday to give the Italians three weekend victories.
Compagnoni, an Olympic and world champion, nearly had a spill on the first run, but she was faultless in the second to clock a combined winning time of 2 minutes, 38.25 seconds.
She was the fastest in both runs. She went through 60 gates on the first while clocking in at 1:21.45. Her time for the second run through 55 gates was 1:16.80.
``I was really scared when I lost control of my left ski at an icy corner,″ said Compagnoni, who beat Seizinger by 59-hundredths of a second. ``Then I attacked and took risks to clock a good first-run time. My second run was far easier.″
Seizinger, twice third in the previous races here, was timed in 2:38.84.
Switzerland’s Sonja Nef had her best giant slalom performance this season, finishing third, 1.42 seconds behind.
World Cup leader Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden was fourth, 2.04 seconds behind Compagnoni.
Wiberg, who has a chance for gold in all disciplines at the World Alpine Championships at Sestriere, which begin Feb. 3, holds a commanding lead in the overall competition with 1,239 points after 21 races.
Seizinger, the Olympic downhill champion, is second overall with 945 points.
Compagnoni, who had won consecutive giant slaloms at Zwiesel, Germany, last week, strengthened her lead in that event. After six giant slaloms, she leads Austrian Anita Wachter 460 to 349 points, and is third in the overall with 755.
Wachter, a three-time winner in Cortina between 1994 and 1996, was a distant ninth Sunday, 3.35 seconds behind Compagnoni.
Heidi Zurbriggen of Switzerland, who had tied Kostner for first place Friday in the downhill, wound up fifth in the giant slalom.
Most competitors complained that the course was too long and too fast, looking more like a super-G.
Compagnoni, who also won her first ever World Cup slalom at Semmering, Austria, last month, said she was overjoyed with her first victory at an Italian course.
``It’s a great emotion to win at home,″ she said. ``I was self-confident today, I skied extremely well in the second run. I felt light.″
Urska Horvat of Slovenia fell shortly before the finish line during her second run, tearing ligaments in her right knee.
Officials of the Slovenian team said the 23-year-old skier from Ljubljana, a bronze medalist in slalom at the 1996 World Championships, will be sidelined for the rest of the season.