Skiing: Compagnoni stays on winning run: Merle might miss the Olympics

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The Independent Online
DEBORAH COMPAGNONI kept two winning sequences going yesterday when she scored her third successive giant slalom victory and her third in a row at Morzine.

In the first World Cup race since the Christmas break, Compagnoni, the Olympic super-giant slalom champion, continued her impressive build-up to the Lillehammer Games. She had won giant slaloms at Tignes, France, and Veysonnaz, Switzerland in December.

Her gold medal at Albertville was offset by a bad fall in the gaint slalom there and she is only now back to racing fitness. 'It took me a season to get back to top form,' she said after mastering the wet snow. 'And I like this type of course which has a steep, twisting finish.'

The Italian led after the first run by a whisker from the World Cup leader Anita Wachter, who remained second at the finish. The American Heidi Voelker, who lost a pole near the end of the second run, was third.

Carole Merle, the Frenchwoman who has won everything in the sport except an Olympic gold, might not attempt every discipline at Lillehammer, if she goes at all.

'I don't know what it is but something is not right,' the giant slalom world champion said after finishing 25th. 'I just can't ski, that's all. If I carry on like this, I'm not going to the Games to do the giant. But don't say I'm not going to the Olympics. I have two races left. It's just that I won't go out to race to come in fifth.'

Merle has won 21 World Cup races and took a silver medal in the super-giant slalom at Albertville where she started as favourite for gold on a home piste.

Paul Accola, the 1992 overall World Cup winner, will return to the circuit in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, this weekend. Accola, sidelined for several weeks because of ankle problems, has entered the slalom and giant slalom.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 39