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Denise Karbon

Denise Karbon, spectacular Italian bronze

Italian Skiier Wins at Swedish World Cup

Denise Karbon

AARE (Sweden) - Only 12th after the 1st round and a bronze medal for the Italian Denise Karbon in the end. Miracles do happen in sports, in ski as well. The icy cold snow of Aare betrayed many competitors in at least one of two rounds in the Women's Giant World Cup of Sweden - first ever competition to be hosted at night time under the reflectors' bright lights.

Denise Karbon, the superb winner at Alta Badia, Italy, three years ago, celebrated a sweet revenge with her second medal at World Championships. She was 2nd in St Moritz in 2003 behind Paerson but suffered a bad knee injury in August 2004.

"I tore my cruciate ligaments and I really struggled for a long time afterwards," she explained.

"I needed two years to find back my rhythm and my confidence. I also switched skis last summer and I felt quite comfortable in the first two giant slalom races and then I got this excellent 3rd place last month at Cortina d'Ampezzo. I knew I had a good chance coming here but I was afraid I blew it in the first run as I only clocked the 12th best time."

After the first round it didn't look any good for Italy: ahead was the beautiful Italian-American Julia Mancuso and just behind her 'ex-equo' the Canadian Genevieve Simard and the Czech Sarka Zahrobksa. Sitting in fourth place, again with the same time, the Austrian Nicole Hosp and the veteran Swedish Anna Ottoson; while further back in seventh position, with over 44/100 seconds gap, was the 'Queen of Aare' Anja Paerson- previews giant winner of two world championships.

And the Italians? Back, sitting terribly back - the least expected - Manuela Moelgg only 9 th , but also victim of an acute back pain. Denise Karbon in 12th with a .99 seconds margin, and Nicole Gius in 18 th place.

The final round was a whole different story. Athletes finally decided to challenge themselves in the slippery and risky slopes of the Swedish giant slalom and something big was just waiting to happen. Denise Karbon's descent was a clear testament of such change as she was able to snatch 49/100 seconds in the intermediate time to the follower and 18/100 in the end.

Right after the Italian's lost the 1st spot to race winner Nicole Hosp (2:31.72) and second to Maria Pietilae-Holmner, the unthinkable happened: the Finnish Poutiainen placed behind Karbon and Anja Paerson didn't get to finish the race due to a crash. It wasn't yet a victory for the Italian team as four more athletes - the most anticipated ones - were yet to terminate their competition.

But it wasn't meant to be for the remaining descendants as one after the other placed a spot behind the final three - including 'Miss World Cup' Julia Mancuso who finished in 5 th position.

"I had nothing to lose at that point and I took all risks afterwards. I felt so fast and so sure - it reminded me what I was feeling at St Moritz in 2003. In the first run I was thinking too much about my line and my speed, but in the second one, I could really let it go". Commented the excited yet astonished Italian athlete.

"I was hoping for a 6th place to be part of the prize giving ceremony but not for that podium finish. It's really amazing for me and our team. Now I know I can win again!"

Alfredo Iannaccone

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