Day 15
Friday, Feb. 23, 2006
Event of the Day / Alpine Skiing, Women's Giant Slalom
Paerson Anja Paerson, above, has won two consecutive World Cup overall titles. But this strong GS field includes defending Olympic gold medalist Janica Kostelic. (Getty Images)
When I Was 24, It Was a Very Good Year

Two 24-year-old women tower over the sport of Alpine skiing: Anja Paerson of Sweden and Janica Kostelic of Croatia. Between them, they won all five gold medals at the 2005 world championships. And if either is on record pace for accumulating medals at the Turin Olympics, the giant slalom will draw even more attention because it's the final Alpine event for women. The giant slalom is classified as a technical event, played out on a course that is longer, with its gates set farther apart, than the slalom. Skiers makes two runs on the same slope, but over different courses, on the same day. The medals go to the skiers with the best combined time. Kostelic won gold in the giant slalom in 2002; Paerson took silver.

Considered a technical specialist early in her career, Paerson has worked hard to diversify her skills since the Salt Lake Games and has been rewarded with back-to-back World Cup overall titles. Fans love her celebratory head-first slide into the finish area after particularly spectacular victories. Kostelic was the star of the 2002 Olympics, winning four medals (three gold and one silver). Like Paerson, she's a two-time winner of the World Cup overall title.

While Paerson and Kostelic will be favorites going in, a pair of Austrians -- Marlies Schild and Nicole Hosp -- could just as easily dominate. America's best hopes rest on Julia Mancuso, 21, of Truckee, Calif., who won bronze in the GS at the 2005 world championships in Bormio. Italian flags fly when Mancuso skis in Italy because of her last name. Mancuso doesn't speak Italian, however, and is somewhat sketchy about her family's roots in the country, offering as evidence of her Italian lineage: "We cook with lots of olive oil." jumps.

-- Liz Clarke

Today's Medals
And who The Post thinks will win them ...

Alpine skiing
Women's giant slalom
G: Anja Paerson, Sweden
S: Marlies Schild, Austria
B: Nicole Hosp, Austria
Cross-Country skiing
Women's 30km freestyle
G: Claudia Kuenzel, Germany
S: Julija Tchepalova, Russia
B: Sabina Valbusa, Italy
Men's 10,000
G: Bob de Jong, Netherlands
S: Chad Hedrick, United States
B: Carl Verheijen, Netherlands
G: Germany
S: Canada
B: Norway
Also Today
Men's hockey
Men's semifinals
Four-man heats
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