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Austrians aim to end Paerson wins

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ARE, Sweden -- A mighty Austrian squad, led by exciting newcomer Kathrin Zettel, will be out to stop Anja Paerson's amazing run in the women's giant slalom at the world Alpine skiing championships on Tuesday.

Swede Paerson has won every women's event so far, taking gold in the super-G, the super-combined and the downhill, and is under pressure from the local media to complete a clean sweep.

The 25-year-old is the defending world giant slalom champion but warned she might struggle in the technical events after looking below par in them all season.

"The technical events will be more difficult for me," she said. "I love the downhill course but the hill for the slalom and the giant slalom is a tough one for me."

The 20-year-old Zettel, who has won two of the four giant slaloms staged this season, has to be regarded as the favorite.

Austria, who had to be content with bronze medals in each of the first three women's events, will also turn to all rounders Marlies Schild and Nicole Hosp in their bid to win a first gold.

Just like the Austrians, the Americans will be hungry for a gold medal after taking silver from each the first three women's contests.

Their best bet is Julia Mancuso, the Olympic giant slalom champion who came second to Paerson in the super-combined here.

Mancuso's best placing in a giant slalom this season was a second place last month in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Ones to watch

Other ones to watch include the Italian trio of Karen Putzer, Denise Karbon and Nicole Gius as well as Finland's Tanja Poutiainen.

Paerson, who underwent knee surgery last year, proved here that she was back at her brilliant best in the speed events but probably needs a bit more time before she can recapture her winning ways in the technical disciplines.

Judging from her form since the start of the two-week festival, however, it would not be wise to count her out.

"I'm feeling a bit tired right now but I'd love to have some more fun," Paerson said after winning the downhill.

Zettel has won two of the four giant slaloms run so far this season.

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