Kostelic wins slalom for second career victory

Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic stormed to victory in the women's slalom today, graduating from prodigy to potential World Cup champion in Serre Chevalier, France.

Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic stormed to victory in the women's slalom today, graduating from prodigy to potential World Cup champion in Serre Chevalier, France.

The World Cup circuit's newest rising star, 17-year-old Kostelic simply overwhelmed the rest of the field, finishing with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 23.34 seconds, cleaving a massive 1.78 second gap in front her closest challenger Norway's Trine Bakke, runner-up in 1:25.12.

Bakke, who had an aggregate time of 1:25.12, finished ahead of reigning World Cup slalom champion Sabine Egger of Austria, who settled for third in 1:25.73.

Sweden's Anja Paerson, third in the World Cup slalom standings last year, placed fourth with a combined time of 1:26.14.

Kostelic had already virtually sped out of reach in the opening leg, carving a .72 second lead ahead of her closest rival, Egger, who was the only skier to get within a second of her.

In the second leg, Kostelic once again laid down the fastest run, blitzing down in 42.34, resulting in a combined time so fast that every skier but Bakke was more than two seconds behind.

Kostelic - who made her mark in her rookie season on the World Cup scene last year by winning a combined event and finishing third in two slaloms - has continued to display heavy potential this year, placing fourth in Saturday's giant slalom and fourth in the season opening slalom in Copper Mountain.

The young Croatian has always been an early bloomer, winning her first event, a combined in St. Anton last January, less than two weeks after her 17th birthday.

She has already climbed her first podium in just her third World Cup race, finishing third in a slalom at Park City, Utah, then placed third in a slalom at St. Anton, Austria, where she claimed the combined.

American Kristina Koznick, sitting fourth after the opening leg, veered off course midway down and was disqualified.

Results from the women's World Cup slalom race(first and second run times in parentheses):

1, Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:23.34 (41:00-42.34).2, Trine Bakke, Norway, 1:25.12 (42:00-43.12).3, Sabine Egger, Austria, 1:25.73 (41.72-44.01).4, Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:26.14 (42.98-43.16).5, Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:26.15 (43.19-42.96).6, Karin Koellerer, Austria, 1:26.29 (43.17-43.12).7, Christel Saioni, France, 1:26.49 (43.06-43.43).8, Zali Steggall, Australia, 1:26.57 (43.16-43.41).9, Vanessa Vidal, France, 1:26.85 (43.34-43.51).10, Claudia Riegler, New Zealand, 1:26.87 (43.08-43.79).11, Pernilla Wiberg, Sweden, 1:26.90 (43.13-43.77).12, Eveline Rohregger, Austria, 1:26.92 (42.64-44.28).13, Helene Richard, France, 1:26.93 (43.99-42.94).14, Anita Wachter, Austria, 1:27.17 (43.66-43.51).15, Urska Hrovat, Slovenia, 1:27.19 (43.50-43.69).16, Elisabetta Biavaschi, Italy, 1:27.32 (44.16-43.16).(tied) Laure Pequegnot, France, 1:27.32 (43.86-43.46).18, Ingrid Salvenmoser, Austria, 1:27.48 (43.65-43.83).19, Allison Forsyth, Canada, 1:27.61 (44.03-43.58)20, Martina Ertl, Germany, 1:27.88 (43.85-44.03).21, Natasa Bokal, Slovenia, 1:27.95 (43.78-44.17).22, Hilde Gerg, Germany, 1:28.12 (43.91-44.21).23, Anna Ottosson, Sweden, 1:28.13 (43.72-44.41).24, Leila Piccard, France, 1:28.19 (43.88-44.31).25, Marlies Oester, Switzerland, 1:28.92 (44.15-44.77).26, Sarah Schleper, United States, 1:39.13 (43.37-55.76).

Did Not Finish Second Run

Kristina Koznick, United States; Spela Pretnar, Slovenia; Karin Truppe, Austria; Corina Grenenfelder, Switzerland;

Did Not Qualify for Second Run

Denise Karbon, Italy; Riitta Pitkanen, Finland; Ylva Nowen, Sweden; Monika Bergmann, Germany; Andrine Flemmen, Norway; Maria Jose Rienda Contreras, Spain; Annemarie Gerg, Germany; Simone Behringer, Germany; Bente Giljarhus, Norway; Karen Putzer, Italy; Kristina Duvillard, France; Brigitte Obermoser, Austria; Emma Carrick-Anderson, Britain; Janette Hargin, Sweden; Eva Kurfuerstova, Czech Republic; Dagmara Krzyzynska, Poland; Sandra Haelldahl, Sweden; Raquel Rienda Contreras, Spain; Nicole Gius, Italy.

Did Not Finish First Run

Sonja Nef, Switzerland; Alenka Dovzan, Slovenia; Lara Magoni, Italy; Linda Ydeskog, Sweden; Stephanie Clement-Guy, France; Henna Raita, Finland; Vicky Grau, Andorra; Barbara Milani, Italy; Tiziana De Martin Tropanin, Italy; Caroline Lalive, United States; Noriyo Hiroi, Japan; Celine Martin, France; Sofia Akhmeteli, Georgia.

Disqualified First Run

Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria.

Did Not Start First Run

Petra Haltmayer, Germany.