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Alexandra the Great Conquers Park City
Park City, Utah
November 19, 1998
The first competitor out of the gate, Meissnitzer held onto the number one spot throughout the first run with a time of 1:05.48. It was during her second run, ahead by two seconds at the halfway mark, that it became apparent all she had to do was keep cruising and she'd clinch the top spot on the podium.
"It's a big surprise that I won two seconds ahead," said Meissnitzer, who placed second in Soelden three weeks ago. "The snow conditions were really good, so it was really easy for me to attack with number 30 (her start order for the second run). I was number one in the first race and there was almost no difference. It was just a perfect race."
Meissnitzer loves the conditions in the US and trained at both Beaver Creek and Copper Mountain last week. Though most of that training consisted of super G and downhill, Meissnitzer maintained speed through the steeps today, demonstrating her ability to perform well in a more technical event.
Has Meissnitzer set goals for an overall title this year?
"I think the time to think about the overall World Cup is in March, but not now," said Meissnitzer. "We've just had two races and my goal is the World Championships in Vail. I would like to medal there, and that's it. The media and my coaches, they can think about it, but not me. I better not, because if I'm just counting the points I'm sure I'm not skiing as relaxed as I am now. We'll see."
After placing tenth in Soelden, Ertl, who just switched from Völkl to Atomic skis, was very happy with her performance today (Ironically, Meissnitzer just switched from Atomic to Völkl). But Ertl noted the most important thing is not to have the best skis, but to ski well, stay in good shape and not get injured. She also mentioned that she and her teammates miss Katja Seizinger, who is currently out after suffering knee ligament injuries during training last spring.
"We called her two days ago," said Ertl. "She is now doing some physical training and she can do the program the coaches gave her ... and I think it is going better for her. She was always good in the training when she was skiing super G and downhill, she has always a focus. We miss her."
Deborah Compagnoni, who placed third in Soelden, skidded off course early in the first race. The course changes direction just above the first steep pitch, called the "Gotcha Pitch", which proved difficult throughout the competition. Like Compagnoni, competitiors who got caught going into it too straight, couldn't regain. The pitch was also the best opportunity for speed, though and if racers couldn't nail it from the beginning, they would have trouble making up the lost time over the lower half of the course.
"I didn't expect to get such good results," said Kostelic. "Actually GS is my worst discipline. My best is in super G and slalom, so I am going to try to do more in those."
Kostelic's first World Cup race was in Cortina last spring.
American women skied well on their home turf and it was easy to spot the upcoming talent in the next generation of US skiers. Nineteen-year-old Sarah Schleper from Vail placed 16th, and teammate Alexandra Shaffer, 22, placed 26th. Both were extremely happy with their runs. Despite a 59th starting position and a bird's eye view of the failed attempts of some racers to negotiate the top of the course, Schleper wasn't worried.
Overall it was an exciting day for the women. Eight countries were represented in the top 10 spots a sharp contrast from the men's events, in which the powerhouse Austrian team generally dominate the top spots.
Meissnitzer shared her thoughts on living in the shadow of the men's successes.
"The men's team for sure, they are really great," she said. "But now I think the ladies' races are more interesting than the men's races (where) there are eight Austrians in the top-10, and so look at the ladies race, there are eight nations in the top 10. And I think it's getting even more interesting and we're getting a strong team. It's getting better and better. It just takes time. You can't change a team in one summer. It's still a young team and I'm sure we'll be back as a strong team this season."
Yes, you can't change a team in one summer. Tommorrow Hermann "The Herminator" Maier and his Austrian teammates will invade Park City for the men's GS, and odds are they'll put on a show.
Michelle Quigley, Mountain Zone Staff
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