Wiberg dominates treacherous championship course

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Pernilla Wiberg (above), the Olympic champion, outclassed her rivals on a treacherously icy slalom course to win the women's combined gold medal at the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, yesterday.

Wiberg, of Sweden, produced two textbook runs to finish more than two seconds ahead of Anita Wachter, of Austria. Marianne Kjoerstad, of Norway, was third to win her first medal in a major event.

Wiberg was 19th, two seconds off the pace, after the downhill on Friday. But she took a commanding lead of more than half a second with a flawless first leg on the slalom slope. Almost half of the 34 starters crashed out in what coaches and racers said had been one of the most difficult slalom runs of the season. The bottom of the course was especially icy.

Wiberg produced a surprisingly aggressive second run for a total time of 3min 19.68sec. Wachter finished in 3:21.73 and Kjoerstad in 3:22.35.

"The slalom was as difficult as the downhill was easy," Wachter said, referring to the relatively undemanding downhill course. "I made the best of it, but Wiberg was way ahead today. She is the most perfect combined skier on the World Cup circuit."

The entire men's combined event will be held today after high winds prevented the downhill leg being staged yesterday. The two slalom legs will be raced in the afternoon and evening.

Photograph: AFP