Originally created 11/29/03

Defending giant slalom champion wins at Park City



PARK CITY, Utah -- Defending World Cup giant slalom champion Anja Paerson pulled away in the second run Friday to win her first race of the season in her specialty event by 1.04 seconds.

Paerson, the gold medalist in last season's world championship, led by 0.28 seconds after the opening run, then left everybody behind in the afternoon. She actually picked up time on the bottom, flatter section of C.B.'s Run that slowed most of the other skiers.

Paerson finished with runs of 1:12.83 and 1:14.31 for a combined 2:27.14, well ahead of Austrian Nicole Hosp's second-place time of 2:28.56. Denise Karbon of Italy was third (2:28.65). Sara Schleper was the top American, finishing ninth (2:29.28).

Paerson, the Olympic giant slalom silver medalist in 2002, finished third in the opening event last month in Soelden, Austria. She was the seventh skier to start Friday and took an early lead that held up through the first run.

Paerson was the last skier to go in and came up with the second-best time of the second runs. She made a wide, sweeping turn at the finish and backed into the barrier before pumping her right fist when she saw the whopping time difference.

Paerson then took off her skis and hammed it up for the television camera, running a few steps up the hill then diving onto the snow.

Maria Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain had the top second run of the day at 1:14.03 and held the lead for much of the afternoon until Sweden's Anna Ottosson briefly claimed it as the top finishers from the morning completed their day.

Schleper, who finished sixth at Park City a year ago, got her second top-10 finish of the season. She was seventh in Soelden.