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Kostelic hospitalized after SC win in Soldeu

Courtesy of www.fisalpine.com

By Shauna Farnell

Sochi, Russia (Sports Network) - The defending overall, slalom and super combined World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic went through a frustrating day at Krasnaya Polyana where he was not able to fully enjoy his sixth victory of the season in the beautiful Russian resort. The Croat injured himself again in his right knee during his superb slalom run and he had to be driven to the local hospital for further examination instead of celebrating his fourth event World Cup title since 2002 with his family and team.

After a strong run down the challenging Rosa Khotur downhill course situated high above the valley, the skier from Zagreb clocked the fifteenth best time only 1.52 seconds behind the leader, his toughest rival, Switzerland's Beat Feuz. Kostelic posted the fastest slalom run in the afternoon, 66/100 of a second faster than the 2nd best Benjamin Raich from Austria, who finished 5th overall. Feuz, despite the fatigue accumulated in past days with a total of five downhill runs, fought bravely in the short yet difficult slalom leg yet he was 2.68 seconds slower than Kostelic, finishing a strong 2nd with a gap of 1.16 seconds.

France's Thomas Mermillon-Blondin finished 3rd, 1.77 sec behind Kostelic. Thomas was also 3rd last year at Bansko, in Bulgaria. Italian Matteo Marsaglia took 4th, 2.02 seconds behind. Austria's Romed Baumann, the winner last week at Chamonix, ended a far 17th this time while USA's Bode Miller, 4th in the morning leg, didn't finish his slalom run.

FIFTH GLOBE FOR KOSTELIC

In the season combined World Cup rankings, Kostelic triumphed for the second year in a row with 336 points against Feuz's 300. Interestingly enough, the Swiss speed specialist was the only racer able to reach the podium in all four combined events this winter. The champion hailing from near capital Berne was more than pleased with his tenth podium finish since the season start.

"The slalom was very icy and difficult today. But after watching Ivica's run I knew I had to attack full to have any chance at all. At the same time I was aware that I needed nothing less of a miracle to win today," said Feuz after his run. The 25-year-old was pleased with his weekend in the Caucasus which kept him in the running for the overall World Cup globe where he trails Kostelic by 70 points (1043 vs 973 respectively).

"I have spoken to Ivica after the race and he told me about his knee injury. He said me he was worried as he already injured it several times in past years. I'm really sorry for him and I strongly hope that it'll not be too bad. He is such a great champion. I wish him all the best and to see him soon on his skis again."

ANOTHER KNEE INJURY FOR IVICA KOSTELIC

After the race, Croatia's Team Manager Vedran Pavlek spoke to the journalists during the post-race press conference to excuse Ivica for not being present and explain his status. "Near the middle of the slalom run, he suddenly felt a shock in his right knee but it didn't prevent him from skiing hard and ending his run," Pavlek told the press. "Then he felt strong pain after taking off his skis when he walked out of the finish area. He said it reminded him of a similar injury that occurred in December 2003 during his winning run at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. We are now going to check his knee at the nearest local hospital and inform the media about his injury."

A year ago, Ivica also hurt himself at that knee during the competitions in Garmisch-Partenkirchen yet he managed to end his season, skiing mostly on one leg. Then he underwent surgery in May at the Bruderholtz Hospital in Basle. This prevented him from training as usual in the springtime - yet he still could win three slaloms and three combined events in recent months and was aiming at a second consecutive overall title in the next weeks.

After the end of the competition, all the other racers and officials had to rush to their hotels to get changed and drive back to the airport to take the charter from Balkan Holidays Airlines to return to Zurich. None of them had really time to fully appreciate the beautiful mountains located near Sochi or visit the town situated at the Black Seas. Hopefully they will have more time in two years! But most of them are looking forward to returning to this impressive resort - especially the winners...

OFFICIAL RESULTS - SOCHI, RUSSIA

MEN'S SUPER COMBINED

1. Ivica Kostelic, CRO, 2:50.21; 2. Beat Feuz, SUI, 2:51.37; 3. Thomas Mermillod Blondin, FRA, 2:51.98; 4. Matteo Marsaglia, ITA, 2:52.23; 5. Benjamin Raich, AUT, 2:52.78; 6. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR, 2:52.79; 7. Carlo Janka, SUI, 2:53.04; 8. Christof Innerhofer, ITA, 2:53.05; 9. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR, 2:53.06; 10. Andreas Romar, FIN, 2:53.29.

North Americans

Did not finish 2nd run

Will Brandenburg, USA; Bode Miller, USA; Ted Ligety, USA

02/12 14:50:07 ET