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Hege Johansson (NOR)
Giant Slalom
Park City, Utah
Wednesday, March 25, 1998

Hege Johansson of Norway ate up this course, skiing aggressively to win the women's giant slalom, the first of three World Cup final races here in Park City this week.

Andrea Walker (SUI)
Andrea Walker (SUI) took 2nd by a mere .05 and teammate Mirjam Rubin placed third. Johansson is currently ranked 4th in giant slalom International Ski Federation (FIS) points going into these finals and Walker is ranked 5th. Sixth ranked Huguette Braisaz (FRA) finished in 4th place.

The upper steep section of the course presented a few challenges for the women. Leslie Beck (GBR) was forced to climb up a few feet to round a gate when she slipped by it, but still finished in a respectable 5th place.

Marcel Waser (SUI)
Switzerland's Marcel Waser nudged the Norwegians out of the top four in the men's race. Second was Antti-Pekka Auvinen of Finland, third was Bjarne Rickardson of Sweden and Chris Rice (USA) took fourth place. Rice, who finished 2nd in the week's previous giant slalom, was not happy with his 4th in the finals.

Antti-Pekka Auvinen (FIN)
"I didn't crash, but I could have picked up a few tenths in the steep section," Rice, who felt confident he could improve his standings in tomorrow's classic, said.

David Primozic (SLO) thought the course setting was good. "It's my first telemark race. It's all Urban's fault that I am here," Primozic said of his teammate Urban Simcic, who sent him out with telemark skis one day in Austria.

"I came back with an ugly face and said 'give me the equipment'," he recounted. Primozic placed 17th and Simcic was 43rd after losing a ski after the jump.

Mother Nature was rolling dice with the weather today — sunshine, hail, rain, snow, wind and sunshine again set an ever-changing stage for racing. Two tons of chemicals applied during the last two days kept the course firm and preserved, and most of the competitors found it to be in good shape and well set. The snow held up throughout the day providing a fair venue with little deterioration as the race progressed.

A telemark giant slalom course is similar to that of alpine giant slalom, but includes a jump with distance and landing requirements. The jump includes a line which racers must clear or they suffer a one-second penalty and they must land in a telemark turn — none of this parallel landing and sneaking the knee down later stuff. If they don't land telemark, they get another second added to their raw time, making it a possible two-second penalty if they don't stick the distance and landing requirements.

In addition, competitors must make telemark turns around every gate with feet at least a boot length apart during the turn; turn transitions must be one continuous sweeping motion with no pauses or bobbles. The balance between style, skill and speed is a fine one, as time matters little if your form sucks.

Tomorrow's line-up includes two full-on classics which surely will max out racers (one is rescheduled from earlier this year). Stay tuned for the fun.

Click for Official Giant Slalom Results
Master's Results

Michelle Quigley, Mountain Zone Staff

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