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PAERSON WINS GIANT SLALOM IN WORLD CUP SKI OPENER

Anja Paerson picked up where she left off last year, winning the season-opening World Cup giant slalom Saturday. American Kristina Koznick was fourth, matching her best result of last season.

Paerson, a Swede who swept the World Cup giant slalom and slalom titles last season, sped down the Rettenbach Gletscher in a two-run time of 2 minutes, 25.21 seconds. The Soelden course is considered the steepest and toughest giant slalom on the women's circuit.

"I'd never won here. It's tough to win here," Paerson said. "It's always good to get a good start. I felt comfortable coming into the season, so I was confident."

Finland's Tanja Poutiainen was runner-up, 0.32 seconds behind. Maria Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain was third in 2:26.78, while Koznick finished in 2:26.95.

Koznick, a two-time Olympian, is coming off a disappointing 2003-04 season.

"This is an awesome start," she said. "I was skiing really good GS this summer, but I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to jinx myself."

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