Skiing: Kosir's conquest of home peak

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The Independent Online
JURE KOSIR of Slovenia fulfilled his childhood dream with a home victory in a World Cup slalom in front of 10,000 fans in Kranjska Gora yesterday.

Kosir, whose only other World Cup win came in Madonna di Campiglio in 1994, repelled the challenge of the Austrians to produce a two-run aggregate time of 1min 37.22sec. The man from the nearby town of Mojstana thus became the third Slovenian to win a slalom in Kranjska Gora. Bojan Krizaj managed the feat in 1982 and 1986 and Rok Petrovic won in 1985.

Kosir, 26, was speechless after the triumph as fans celebrated loudly and carried him on their shoulders through the finish area. "I have been skiing on this slope since I was a kid. I always dreamed of winning here. This is the biggest thing to have happened in my life," he said. "I always imagined skiing through the finish line and winning and what the crowds would be like and how they would cheer. This is what happened today, and it is like a dream."

The veteran Thomas Stangassinger was second in 1:37.48 ahead of his fellow Austrian Benjamin Raich, a 20-year-old World Cup newcomer who made a staggering improvement on his first run to move up from 16th to third in 1:37.79.

Raich's result was a surprise, as was the fourth place of another young Austrian, the 21-year-old Rainer Schonfelder, who recorded the fastest second-run time - nearly three seconds quicker than that of Kosir - for an overall 1:37.85 after lying 27th in the first leg.

Thomas Sykora, Austria's leading figure in slalom, and the discipline's World Cup champion for the past two years, suffered a career-threatening injury before the race. He hurt his left knee in the pre-race warm-up, tearing the tendon he had surgery on in late November.