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    Friday, February 20, 1998

    Compagnoni wins women's giant slalom, making Alpine history

     SHIGA KOGEN, Japan (AP) -- Deborah Compagnoni was not about to let it happen again, not in the event she has ruled for the past few years.
     A day after blowing a big first-run lead and getting silver in the slalom, Compagnoni threaded her way down an icy giant slalom course to become the first Alpine skier to win gold medals in three Olympics.
     Compagnoni took a lead of nearly a full second into the second run Friday (Thursday night EST), and expanded that to 1.8 seconds on a course that other skiers complained was the toughest they'd ever encountered.
     Compagnoni finished with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 50.59 seconds to successfully defend the title she won in Lillehammer. She also won a gold medal in the super-G in 1992 at the Albertville Games.
     Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria won the silver medal in 2:52.39 and Germany's Katja Seizinger, winning her third medal in five days, was third in 2:52.61.
     Seizinger won gold medals in the downhill and combined earlier this week. Meissnitzer was a bronze medalist in the super-G last week.
     A mixture of rain and snow fell during both runs. The second run was moved up 45 minutes because of the deteriorating weather.
     Compagnoni joined Seizinger and Vreni Schneider of Switzerland as the only women with three gold medals in Alpine races. Both of the others accomplished the feat in two games.
     Seizinger's bronze gave Germany six of the 15 medals in the women's Alpine events at Nagano. The Austrians have been even more dominant in the men's races, taking seven of the 12 medals so far, with the slalom remaining Saturday (Friday night EST).
     Compagnoni, who has to overcome a series of physical problems throughout her career that include surgery on both knees, a broken shinbone and intestinal surgery, finishe the first run with a lead of .94 seconds over France's Sophie Lefranc.
     Compagnoni also held a big lead after the first run of the slalom a day earlier, only to lose the gold to Germany's Hilde Gerg by six-hundredths of a second.
     But Compagnoni's specialty is the giant slalom, in which she is two-time defending world champion. It's the event in which she won nine straight World Cup races, a streak that ended just last month.
     "It's a very difficult and technical course, the kind of course I like most," Compagnoni said. "It's a course where you must use your brains in addition to your legs."
     A small band of Italian fans chanted "Deb-Deb-Deborah" at the finish line. After wrapping up her victory and seeing her time, Compagnoni turned to the crowd and raised her arms in triumph.
     Lefranc finished fifth, behind Germany's Martina Ertl. Andrine Flemmen of Norway, third fastest on the first run, finished 10th.
     Julie Parisien of Sugarloaf, Maine., was the only American to complete the race, finishing 28th in 3:02.78.
     Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., and Alexandra Shaffer of Aspen, Colo., did not finish the second run. Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs, Colo., slid off the course near the top of the first run.
     U.S. women's head coach Herwig Demschar said the course was just too tough, especially in the lousy weather.
     "It's not a very good advertisement for women's sports. Normally you should have a good balance between where you can challenge the course and difficulty," Demschar complained. "As long as they can challenge and go fast,it's fine. The course is very difficult and now with the rain it's impossible. The only woman who can ski this course is Compagnoni."
     Spela Pretnar of Slovenia, who failed to finish the first run, agreed that the conditions were awful.
     "It's the toughest course I've ever raced on," she said. "The snow was breaking up and there were a lot of holes. And then, with the rain on the goggles, you had no chance."

     Women's Giant Slalom Results
     SHIGA KOGEN, Japan (AP) -- Final results Friday from the women's giant slalom medal event at the Winter Olympics (first and second runs in parentheses):

     1, Deborah Compagnoni, Italy, (1:18.94, 1; 1:31.65, 1), 2 minutes, 50.59 seconds.
     2, Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, (1:20.13, 4; 1:32.26, 2), 2:52.39.
     3, Katja Seizinger, Germany, (1:20.19, 5; 1:32.42, 4), 2:52.61.
     4, Martina Ertl, Germany, (1:20.38, 7; 1:32.34, 3), 2:52.72.
     5, Sophie Lefranc, France, (1:19.88, 2; 1:33.39, 8), 2:53.27.
     6, Heidi Zurbriggen, Switzerland, (1:20.31, 6; 1:33.30, 6), 2:53.61.
     7, Anna Ottosson, Sweden, (1:20.48, 8; 1:33.33, 7), 2:53.81.
     8, Sabina Panzanini, Italy, (1:20.97, 10; 1:33.12, 5), 2:54.09.
     9, Birgit Heeb, Liechtenstein, (1:21.27, 11; 1:33.43, 9), 2:54.70.
     10, Andrine Flemmen, Norway, (1:20.04, 3; 1:34.90, 15), 2:54.94.
     11, Pernilla Wiberg, Sweden, (1:21.48, 14; 1:33.92, 10), 2:55.40.
     12, Maria Rienda Contreras, Spain, (1:21.57, 15; 1:33.97, 11), 2:55.54.
     13, Hilde Gerg, Germany, (1:21.45, 13; 1:34.44, 13), 2:55.89.
     14, Martina Fortkord, Sweden, (1:21.99, 18; 1:34.36, 12), 2:56.35.
     15, Stefanie Schuster, Austria, (1:21.40, 12; 1:35.01, 16), 2:56.41.
     16, Karin Roten, Switzerland, (1:20.91, 9; 1:36.05, 23), 2:56.96.
     17, Alenka Dovzan, Slovenia, (1:22.57, 20; 1:34.78, 14), 2:57.35.
     18, Urska Hrovat, Slovenia, (1:21.61, 16; 1:35.83, 21), 2:57.44.
     19, Catherine Borghi, Switzerland, (1:21.90, 17; 1:36.52, 24), 2:58.42.
     20, Natasa Bokal, Slovenia, (1:22.86, 21; 1:35.60, 19), 2:58.46.
     tie, Christiane Mitterwallner, Austria, (1:23.10, 24; 1:35.36, 17), 2:58.46.
     22, Kristine Kristiansen, Norway, (1:23.04, 22; 1:35.67, 20), 2:58.71.
     23, Karen Putzer, Italy, (1:22.15, 19; 1:36.89, 26), 2:59.04.
     24, Janica Kostelic, Croatia, (1:23.45, 25; 1:35.94, 22), 2:59.39.
     25, Kazuko Ikeda, Japan, (1:23.06, 23; 1:37.65, 28), 3:00.71.
     26, Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, (1:24.90, 27; 1:36.76, 25), 3:01.66.
     27, Kumiko Kashiwagi, Japan, (1:26.33, 31; 1:35.58, 18), 3:01.91.
     28, Julie Parisien, Auburn, Maine, (1:25.34, 30; 1:37.44, 27), 3:02.78.
     29, Junko Yamakawa, Japan, (1:24.93, 28; 1:39.02, 30), 3:03.95.
     30, Regina Haeusl, Germany, (1:26.37, 32; 1:38.20, 29), 3:04.57.
     31, Ilze Abola, Latvia, (1:30.66, 33; 1:43.84, 31), 3:14.50.
     32, Monika Kovacs, Hungary, (1:30.73, 34; 1:44.83, 32), 3:15.56.
     33, Jana Nikolovska, Nacedonia (1:38.14, 35; 1:51.83, 33), 3:29.97.
     34, Sofia Mistrioti, Greece, (1:39.76, 36; 1:52.44, 34), 3:32.20.
     First Run
     NR, Isolde Kostner, Italy, DNS.
     NR, Yulia Krygina, Kazakstan, DNS.
     NR, Yulia Kharkivska, Ukraine, DNS.
     NR, Sonja Nef, Switzerland, DNF.
     NR, Leila Piccard, France, DNF.
     NR, Ana Galindo Santolaria, Spain, DNF.
     NR, Ylva Nowen, Sweden, DNF.
     NR, Spela Pretnar, Slovenia, DNF.
     NR, Ainhoa Ibarra Astelarra, Spain, DNF.
     NR, Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., DNF.
     NR, Lucie Hrstkova, Czech Republic, DNF.
     NR, Tamara Schaedler, Liechtenstein, DNF.
     NR, Ingeborg Marken, Norway, DNF.
     NR, Noriyo Hiroi, Japan, DNF.
     NR, Diana Fehr, Liechtenstein, DNF.
     NR, Sophie Ormond, Britain, DNF.
     NR, Carola Calello, Argentina, DNF.
     NR, Vicky Grau, Andorra, DNF.
     NR, Theodora Mathiesen, Iceland, DNF.
     NR, Henna Raita, Finland, DNF.
     NR, Brynja Thorsteinsdottir, Iceland, DNF.
     NR, Ariana Boras, Bosnia-Herzegovina, DNF.
     NR, Katrine Hvidsteen, Denmark, DNF.
     Second Run
     NR, Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., DNF.
     NR, Alexandra Shaffer, Aspen, Colo., DNF.