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Slovenian wins Super-G in her maiden race

19931224

Katja Koren from Slovenia on her winning run at the women's Super-G on Wednesday at Flachau, Austria. Koren won the race in a time of 1:15.62. [ Reuter ]

FLACHAU, Austria (Agencies via Xinhua)-Slovenia's Katja Koren made a wish on No 66 before pounding out her maiden Alpine World Cup race victory at the season's opening Super-G on Wednesday.

Koren shocked her rivals from the late start to clock one minute 15.62 seconds down the extremely icy Griessender slope, 8-100ths of a second ahead of Italy's Bibiana Perez (1:15.70).

Markus Foser of Liechtenstein surprised ski officials last week with his first victory at Val Gardena, Italy, with the same start number, 66.

"Before the start I thought about Foser's surprise win, and thought it would be nice if I could also win with this number," said Koren.

"I am very surprised. I never thought I could win."

The 18-year-old student from Maribor threw herself into the snow, out of joy, in the finish area.

Koren is the first women to win an Alpine ski race for the young Slovenian nation. Jure Kosir captured the first men's victory for Slovenia at Monday's slalom at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. The nation's strength has previously been in technical events.

Perez, 23, is happy with her performance this season, despite Wednesday's close call. She finished third at the two-heat downhill at St. Anton, fourth in the combination and fourth at the slalom at Veysonnaz, Switzerland.

Germany's Katja Seizinger was third with 1:15.87 and Morena Gallizio of Italy fourth with 1:16.28 on the 1,513 metre long piste with a vertical drop of 480 metres.

Wednesday's second surprise came from another promising Slovenian, Alenka Dovzan, who left the start house 62nd and finished fifth (1:16.95), ahead of Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg (1:17.26).

Austria's Anita Wachter maintained her lead in the overall standings on 544 points, which she took for the first time last season, despite finishing a poor 45th and gaining no points.

Wiberg reduced the gap to Wachter in the overalls by 14 points with a sixth place Super-G finish. Switzerland's slalom and giant slalom specialist Vreni Schneider, who did not race in the Super-G, holds third position on 482 points.

In Lech, Austria, Hannes Trinkl of Austria was the surprise winner of a World Cup Super-G event on Wednesday, taking advantage of a high starting number as the weather steadily improved during the race.

Organizers had to clear masses of overnight snow from the track, and the first group of competitors struggled down while snow fell on the upper stretch and visibility was less than ideal.

But conditions improved as the race wore on, giving an early Christmas gift to late starters who did much better than expected.

Trinkl, skiing with starting number 51, won the race in one minute and 4:42 seconds, ahead of another newcomer, Italian Werner Perathoner, who clocked 1:05.02, and Armin Assinger of Austria, who finished in 1:05.10.

The winner, a heavy-set farmer's son who puts some weight on his skis, agreed that he had better conditions than early starters.

"The vision got better, and snowing eased somewhat," he told reporters after kissing his skis as if to thank them for the good run.

Guenther Mader shared 10th place with fellow Austrian Hans Knauss. Patrick Ortlieb, who won the last World Cup downhill, made a mistake and did not finish the race.

Fourth was Markus Wasmeier of Germany in 1:05.20, followed by Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg in 1:05.27 and Atle Skaardal of Norway in 1:05.29.

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