Compagnoni gives Italy first of golden double


MERIBEL, France -- Their races were separated by two hours and four mountain resorts.

In Val d'Isere, Albertoville was being founded by Alberto Tomba. But on a bright, sunlit afternoon, an effervescent 21-year-old racer from Bormio was creating her own slice of Italian skiing history.

Deborah Compagnoni completed the first part of the Italian Alpine double yesterday when she won the women's super-G gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Then she watched as her teammate and sometime training partner, Tomba, won the men's giant slalom gold.

"It is a beautiful day for Italy," Compagnoni said. "It is a beautiful day for both of us."

With economy and precision, Compagnoni attacked the Piste du Corbey course to win in 1 minute, 21.22 seconds.

Carole Merle of France was second in 1:22.63. Germany's Katja Seizinger came within one wide turn from winning the gold but settled for the bronze in 1:23.19.

"Good snow. Good sun," Compagnoni said, trying to explain how she overwhelmed the course and her competition.

Compagnoni's performance left others befuddled.

"How did she do that?" said Eva Twardokens, the top American finisher in eighth. "I've got to see a tape of that."

Compagnoni was controlled, finding the proper rhythm to cope with a course made soft by a coating of snow Monday.

For the Americans, who received a surprise Sunday when Hilary Lindh won a downhill silver, the race was a near wipeout.

Diann Roffe, first out of the gate, hit a bump 30 seconds into her run and slid off the course.

"Starting No. 1 was rough," she said. "When I was in the gate, I had nothing to lose. All it takes is one little thing and it's over. I'm not going to say I didn't take chances. It happens so fast. You don't have any time to think."

Julie Parisien, recovering from a broken left wrist and the loss of ,, four teeth, also had problems. She finished with the 11th-fastest time -- 1:24.45 -- but she was disqualified for leaving the start house .16 early.

"I know I didn't go out early," Parisien said. "I know that in my mind, I was 11th. I just have to remember that."

Lindh was 17th in 1:25.37.

Twardokens punched the day's best run for the Americans, finishing in 1:24.19. She displayed the form that may help her do even better in today's slalom.

"This was my best run of the year," she said. "I beat a lot of people I had trouble beating last year. Luck has a lot to do with winning a medal. But I have the ability to win one here."

Compagnoni was the best yesterday. And it was no surprise. Although nine women have placed in the top three in the three Super-G races on this year's World Cup circuit, Compagnoni established herself as an Olympic contender with a victory last month in Morzine, France.

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