- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

SNOWBASIN, Utah (AP) Caroline Lalive just can't seem to stay on her skis.

America's best all-around female skier extended a dubious streak by flopping and then dropping out of the women's combined event, wiping out her hopes of matching Bode Miller's silver medal in that event.

The winner was Janica Kostelic, the first Croatian medalist at a Winter Olympics and the first member of her family with a medal at the Salt Lake City Games.

Her older brother, Ivica, is a favorite in the men's slalom next week. Kostelic, 20, skied yesterday's race with the letters I-V-I-C-A painted on the nails of her left hand.

"It's a family medal," she said. "It's a family dream come true."

Renate Goetschl of Austria won the silver medal, and Germany's Martina Ertl won bronze. Lindsey Kildow, 17, of Vail, Colo., placed sixth in her Olympic debut.

Lalive, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finished seventh in the combined event at the 1998 Nagano Games and was a medal hopeful in the event here.

She also was hoping just to complete a major race.

Lalive had crashed out of the downhill two days earlier, the sixth straight Olympic or world championship race in which her name has been accompanied by the code DNF Did Not Finish.

But she slipped midway down the first slalom run and slid past two gates. She got to her feet, gallantly trekking sideways back up the mountain right ski followed by left, 13 painstakingly slow steps.

She finished a whopping 17.85 seconds behind first-run leader Kostelic and had little chance of making up enough time in the second slalom run and downhill to contend for a medal.

Lalive stormed off the mountain, telling U.S. Ski Team officials she had nothing to say. Then she failed to show up for the second slalom run, extending her streak of DNFs to seven.

Falling has become a bad habit for Lalive. She broke her left wrist last May and missed a preseason training camp after crashing on her mountain bike in southeastern Utah.

Lalive has earned points in all five World Cup disciplines, but U.S. coaches have worried that she's stretched too thin and not able to focus on individual events.

She is scheduled to race again in Sunday's super giant slalom, but U.S. women's coach Marjan Cernigoj said yesterday that Kildow and not Lalive had earned the fourth American spot in the slalom next week.

Cernigoj insisted Lalive's problems are technical, not mental, and said there was little point in her finishing the combined event.

"She was disappointed. She was down on herself," he said. "To continue today, she did not have a chance. The combined event for her was over. We want to save the energy for super-G."

Kostelic completed the two slalom runs and the downhill that make up the combined event in 2 minutes, 43.28 seconds. She won by nearly 1½ seconds over Goetschl, who captured her second medal in three days she won bronze in Tuesday's downhill.

Julia Mancuso, 17, from Squaw Valley, Calif., finished 13th. She also was making her Olympic debut.

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