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Aubert takes slalom as Vonn slides out

SANDRINE Aubert of France won her first World Cup race by taking yesterday's slalom in Ofterschwang, Germany, after first-run leader Lindsey Vonn of the United States clipped a gate in the second heat and was eliminated.

That meant Vonn failed to clinch the overall World Cup title for the second straight season, but she will still take a big lead into this week's World Cup finals in Are, Sweden.

Aubert had a combined time of 1 minute, 46.28 seconds. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden took second in 1:46.71 for her best career finish. Aubert was third after the first run and Hansdotter fifth.

Nicole Hosp of Austria took third in 1:47.10 after jumping from 10th to third over the two runs.

Vonn's best friend Maria Riesch of Germany won the overall slalom crown by finishing fifth.

Vonn, who needed to finish ahead of Riesch to collect her second overall title, clipped a gate with her right ski at the bottom of the second run while leading comfortably.

Vonn leads Riesch overall by 369 points, with four races remaining - and 400 points at stake.

Kathrin Zettel of Austria, who won Friday's slalom on the same slope, was second after the first heat but made a similar mistake as Vonn and was also eliminated.

In Kvitfjell, Norway, Klaus Kroell beat the fog and his Austrian team leader Michael Walchhofer to win his first World Cup downhill yesterday.

Kroell's first World Cup victory, in a super-G in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in January, was also the last in a speed event by an Austrian, the once almighty team having since struggled and failed to make a podium at last month's world championships in Val d'Isere, France.

The 28-year-old skier from Oeblam clocked 1:32.12 on a course shortened because of the lack of visibility.

The win was a relief for Kroell, who had to be content with five podium places in the discipline since 2002.

Walchhofer, the only other Austrian winner of a downhill this season, in Val Gardena, Italy, on December 20, was 0.27 behind.

Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who earned his first World Cup victory on the same course on Friday, was third 0.55 off the pace.

Walchhofer is now ideally placed to win his third crystal globe in the discipline, leading Kroell by 75 points before the finals in Are.


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