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ZELLER-BAEHLER WINS WORLD CUP GIANT SLALOM

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A solid three-event skier with 42 top-10 finishes, Heidi Zeller-Baehler had everything on her resume except victories.

In two dazzling weeks of racing, she filled in the blanks.The 27-year-old Swiss skier rallied from third place after the first run to capture a women's World Cup giant slalom Sunday.

Zeller-Baehler, who just last week posted her first World Cup victory in 10 seasons on the circuit when she won a giant slalom in Park City, Utah, solidified her hold on first place in this season's overall standings.

In five races this season, Zeller-Baehler has two firsts, a third and a ninth, giving her 289 points in the overall standings. Runnerup Vreni Schneider, also of Switzerland, has 257.

"It's still too early to think about the overall," Zeller-Baehler insisted.

Zeller-Baehler began the second run 51-hundredths behind first-run leader Urska Hrovat of Slovenia but posted the fastest second run of 1 minute, 7.01 seconds for a combined time of 2:14.86.

Schneider, runner-up after the first heat, had a ragged start on her second run and could do no better than 1:07.28 to finish at 2:15.08.

Hrovat, the last of the top-ranked skiers to come down the course on the second run, nearly lost control early in her run, losing valuable time when she skidded wide of a gate. Her second run of 1:08.52 dropped her into fifth place.

"It had to be good," Zeller-Baehler said of her second run. "I had two faults, but I think when you're fast, you always have the little mistakes.

"I changed my skis for this season. Now I know I have very good material and that helps my head and helps my confidence. I was more relaxed for the second run today. When everything is OK, it just comes."

Schneider said her rhythm was off from the moment she left the start house.

"I couldn't really get going," she said. "My timing was off at the first gate. But when I finish in second place, I can't really be unhappy."When I see Heidi skiing like this, I'm very happy that she won. When you have good results like she has had, you grow, and I think Heidi will go on from here."

Marianne Kjoerstad of Norway had a combined time of 2:15.44 to finish third, and Birgit Heeb of Liechtenstein placed fourth in 2:15.74, tying her career best finish set last week.

Leila Piccard of France was sixth, Gro Kvinlog of Norway took seventh and Sabina Panzinini of Italy was eighth.

Germany's Katja Seizinger came in ninth. Eva Twardokens of Santa Cruz, Calif., was the top American, finishing 12th in 2:16.95.

Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden was 13th, and Austria's Anita Wachter, the defending World Cup giant slalom champion, finished 16th after a disappointing first run that left her in 15th place.

Hrovat, 20, who won a slalom at Maribor last season, carved precise turns to finish the first run in 1:07.34, giving her nearly a half-second lead over Schneider, who has won more giant slaloms than any other woman skier.