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Compagnoni beats Wachter and Wiberg to win giant slalom

January 17, 1997

ZWIESEL, Germany (AP) _ Uncomfortable on the course and coming off the flu, Deborah Compagnoni, the Olympic and world champion, showed her class Friday.

The Italian blazed down the icy, bumpy Nordhang course in the first run to take a commanding lead, then survived a few mistakes in the second heat for an overwhelming victory in a World Cup giant slalom Friday.

``I was surprised by my victory and especially by my first run,″ Compagnoni said. ``I don’t like the course, it’s just straight down. I also had the flu a few days ago and I didn’t feel comfortable. I was just trying to have a clean run.

``It’s an important victory because I’d been looking for a giant slalom win the whole season.″

Anita Wachter of Austria, also fighting a cold, finished second in the season’s fourth giant slalom, while Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden extended her overall World Cup lead by placing third after a strong second run.

Compagnoni was timed in 1 minute, 3.69 seconds to take a 1.08-second lead over Katja Seizinger of Germany after the first run.

Seizinger fell five gates into the second run, making Compagnoni’s job easier.

``When Katja fell, I knew all I had to do was complete the run,″ said Compagnoni, who posted her second victory of the season. Her combined time for the two runs was 2:08.45, leaving Wachter 1.16 seconds behind.

Wachter, the 1993 World Cup champion, was runner-up in a giant slalom for the third straight time, clocking 2:09.61.

``I slept only two hours, I was very tired,″ said Wachter, who is taking antibiotics to fight the cold.

Wiberg was fastest in the second run on the tight 45-gate course that had a vertical drop of 335 meters. Her combined time of 2:09.92 propelled her from sixth to third, her best giant slalom finish since December 1993.

Seizinger, winner of the season’s opening giant slalom at Soelden, Austria, was trying to cut into Wiberg’s lead in the overall World Cup standings.

``I hit a bump and I lost my balance,″ said Seizinger, who remained second overall with 649 points. ``I was risking a lot.″

Wiberg collected 60 points for third place and raised her leading total to 923.

Compagnoni’s victory was the ninth of her career _ the sixth in a giant slalom.

By collecting 100 points, Compagnoni took over the World Cup lead in the event with 260 points.

Wachter has 240 points, while Compagnoni’s Italian teammate, Sabina Panzanini, who won the last two giant slaloms, finished 16th Friday and dropped to third with 215 points.

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