Paerson Wins Combined Ski Race

Friday, February 9th 2007, 12:38 pm
By: News On 6

ARE, Sweden (AP) _ Anja Paerson won the women's combined event Friday, her second gold medal in as many races at the world ski championships. American Julia Mancuso took the silver medal.

Paerson, a Swede who also won gold in the super-giant slalom on Thursday, won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 57.69 seconds. Mancuso finished in 1:58.50 and Austria's Marlies Schild was third in 1:58.54.

``My dream was to win a gold medal. Now I have already two,'' said Paerson, who also is a favorite for Sunday's downhill race.

Paerson led after the morning's downhill portion of the combined event, which also includes one slalom run.

``This season was hard for me in slalom. This was the hardest race of my life,'' said Paerson, who has struggled this season following knee surgery. ``The snow was so aggressive.''

Mancuso was third after the downhill leg, behind U.S. teammate Lindsey Kildow _ who had a bad slalom run and dropped out of the top 15 in the final combined results. Schild, a slalom specialist, was 10th after the downhill leg.

``It's pretty cool,'' said Mancuso, who feels pain when she skis slalom ever since she had hip surgery in the offseason, and also has a shin problem.

``In the slalom you never know how it's going to go. I gave it everything I could and had a good run. But Anja was too far ahead, so I just tried to get silver.''

Kildow, who is stronger in the speed events, made a mistake midway down the slalom that threw off her rhythm.

``I knew I had to go all out in the slalom,'' she said. ``I was really pushing it, and I just lost it.''

Paerson now has six world titles and a total of 13 major championship medals, including five Olympic medals.

That's even more than Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who collected seven major championship medals, including two Olympic and three world titles.

``For me, it's just putting my name next to (Kjetil Andre) Aamodt, Ingemar and Pernilla (Wiberg). They are great skiers. They are my idols,'' said Paerson, who comes from Tarnaby in northern Sweden _ the same Arctic town as Stenmark.

Aamodt has the most major championship medals in history with 20, while Wiberg collected nine.

Paerson now has world championship titles in four of the five disciplines, and is only missing a downhill gold to complete the set. She hopes to complete that set on Sunday.