Skiing: Kostner wins Italy's third gold medal

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The Independent Online
Isolde Kostner retained her super-giant slalom title to complete a hat-trick of gold medals for the hosts, Italy, at the world championships in Sestriere.

Kostner, who hails from the German-speaking village of St Ulrich in Val Gardena, overcame a poor start to clock 1min 23.50sec down the Kandahar- Banchetta piste and beat Germany's Katja Seizinger by 0.08sec. Seizinger, the Olympic downhill gold medallist and former super-G world champion, was in turn 0.06sec ahead of her compatriot, Hilde Gerg.

"I was never troubled by all the attention," said Kostner, shrugging off huge local expectations after Italy's Deborah Compagnoni won the first two women's races.

She matched Compagnoni's achievement in defending a title, but Kostner said it was the Norwegian Atle Skaardal retaining his men's super-G title in the opening race of the championships that had been provided more help to her. Particularly the way he skied the bottom part of the course. "I tried to follow his line and it was the right thing to do because I won... I knew I could win on this course as Skaardal has the same skis as me," she said.

After her poor start, she made up more than 0.40 seconds in the final stages to win. "I thought I'd go well on the upper part and have a few problems at the bottom. In fact it was the other way round," she said.

Seizinger, who set off fifth, straight after Gerg, made a few mistakes that sent her wide of the racing line. "The eight-hundredths stink," she said of the winning margin. "The result, however, is no surprise."

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