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Ivica Kostelic claims slalom at Wengen

1/15/2012

WENGEN, Switzerland -- Ivica Kostelic of Croatia proved the master of Wengen again Sunday, winning a World Cup slalom to close the gap on overall standings leader Marcel Hirscher, who was disqualified for straddling a gate.

Kostelic was almost flawless in the second run to finish 0.85 seconds ahead of Andre Myhrer of Sweden. Fritz Dopfer of Germany was third.

Bode Miller was the only American of six to complete the first run. However, Miller did not qualify for a second run after his time trailed Matt by 2.39 and finished outside the top 30.

Teammate Ted Ligety, who attempted to move from fourth in the overall race, skied out at the fourth gate of the first run.

Kostelic has won five of the last seven World Cup events raced at the storied Swiss venue since January 2010. His 22nd career World Cup victory also completed his Wengen weekend double of slalom and super-combined for the second time.

"I guess I have something with this mountain like no other," said Kostelic, whose third straight win in the Wengen slalom matched Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (1975-77). "To find yourself in the same sentence as Ingemar Stenmark is the greatest honor. Unlike many other racers ... I really am following the history of skiing. They were legends for me."

Kostelic, the defending overall champion, earned 100 World Cup points and cut Hirscher's lead to 30 points. He also extended his lead over Hirscher in the slalom standings to 125 points.

His performance was cheered by hundreds of flag-waving Croatian fans among the 8,000 spectators, with one lighting a red smoke flare in celebration.

"It gave me a warm feeling around my heart," Kostelic said.

Myhrer, twice a runner-up to Kostelic here, said he believed his leading time could hold up against his good friend, who had been third-fastest in the morning run.

"I don't know what I should do to beat him. He totally crushed it down there," Myhrer said.

Hirscher had been unbeaten in 2012, winning his last three races. But he was disqualified after the first run -- when he would have been fastest by 0.77 -- because he straddled a gate.

"It happens. What should I say? I skied an awesome run," Hirscher said. "Everybody can see that I am really, really fast. And that is pretty cool."

Hirscher said he had not realized his error.

"I feel something but I couldn't feel exactly what happens," the Austrian said. "Sometimes you hit the gate pretty close and then there's not a difference between straddling and hitting a gate pretty hard. I have to cancel this race out of my mind and look forward."

Hirscher competes only in slalom and giant slalom races this season. His failure to score points Sunday won't change his plan to skip the super-G race on Friday at Kitzbuehel, Austria, which Kostelic won last year.