February 22, 2006

I’m done, says tired Kostelic

By Alan Baldwin

SESTRIERE, Italy (Reuters) - Croatian Janica Kostelic, the
most successful woman Alpine skier in Olympic history, may have
made her final appearance of the Turin Games on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old, looking pale and tired after finishing
fourth in a foggy slalom under the Sestriere floodlights, told
reporters that she was 90 percent certain not to defend her
giant slalom title on Friday.

"For this Games, I'm done," she said.

"I really can't (race the giant slalom). It's too much for
my body. I tried today and I gave it all and that's it.

"I am sick, I feel really bad. I'm done. There is very
little, little chance that I'm going to ski. I have absolutely
no power," she added.

However, Kostelic later told Croatian reporters that she
would wait until Friday for a definite decision on the final
race of the women's program.


Kostelic won three golds and a silver in Salt Lake City,
more than any other woman skier had won at a single Games but
had her thyroid gland removed two years ago and has had
recurring illness since then.

She opted out of last week's downhill because she had a
fever and a high pulse rate.

Kostelic would also have missed the super-G but for a
weather delay that moved the race from Sunday to Monday and
allowed her to gather strength. She finished second, her sixth
Olympic medal after Saturday's combined gold.

Wednesday's race offered her a chance to become the first
Alpine skier to take five career golds but she was fifth after
the first leg and 0.69 seconds behind eventual winner Anja
Paerson of Sweden.

Kostelic said she had considered pulling out then.

"I went to my apartment and I was thinking about whether I
should skip the second run," she said. "I figured I had just
one more run to go and I'm done."

Even in her moment of triumph on Saturday, Kostelic had
said she was not feeling good.

"But I always ski good when I'm sick. I just try to push
myself more," she said then. "It was kind of a challenge for me
to beat my sickness, to just try to do my best when I'm not
feeling good."

Kostelic still has a third overall World Cup title to
consider. She leads Paerson by 261 with nine races remaining
next month.