Kristina Koznick (Eagan, MN) powered through a strong second run of slalom Thursday night and finished with her second consecutive second-place finish (behind World Cup SL leader Tanja Poutiainen of Finland), leading three U.S. women into the top 10 in the first World Cup race in Croatia.
Poutiainen, who was third in the first run Thursday afternoon, also had a fast second run and took the win as first-run leaders Marlies Schild of Austria and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), who was second, struggled on their final run. The Finn won in 1:50.71 with Koznick second - her third top-3 of the season in slalom - timed in 1:50.78.
Schleper struggled at the start of her final fun but finished sixth in 1:51.75. In addition, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) was 10th, Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) 20th and Lauren Ross (Stowe, VT) posted her second top-30, finishing 29th. It was the first time three U.S. women have broken into the top 10 since Zwiesel, Germany, last season when Schleper was fourth, Stiegler eighth and Koznick 10th.
"Conditions were perfect and the crowd was amazing, just so enthusiastic...and Koz had a great race again; she was second-fastest for the second run and was second again," said U.S. Head Coach Patrick Riml. "Sarah had an excellent first run and then she made a second-run mistake on the first breakover, but still skied well enough to hold onto sixth. So, if she cleans up things for Maribor [Slovenia] this weekend and she could be on the podium, too.
"Resi was 15th and then tied for third-fastest on that second run, so she moved up to another top-10, which is good," Riml said. "And Julia skied okay, Lauren got points again - five girls in the top 30...and the girls, on the whole, are skiing well."
National hero Janica Kostelic crushed the crowd of 20,000-plus when she missed a gate up-top and skied out early in the first run.
The women's tour heads next to Maribor for its annual giant slalom and slalom on the weekend, the final women's races before the World Championships Team is named and the championships begin Jan. 29 in Bormio, Italy.
WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Zagreb, CRO - Jan. 20, 2005
Women's Slalom (Night)
1. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:50.71
2. Kristina Koznick, Eagan, Minn., 1:50.78
3. Marlies Schild, Austria, 1:5.119
4. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 1:51.73
5. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 1:51.74
6. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 1:51.75
10. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 1:52.12
20. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:53.54
29. Lauren Ross, Stowe, Vt., 1:55.59
Courtesy of US Ski Team