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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 01:21 GMT

Kostelic's downhill surprise

BBC Sport's skiing expert Martin Bell commends Janica Kostelic impressive win in the women's combined.

Basically Janica Kostelic skied well above expectations in the downhill and because of that, it wasn't even close.

Of course, she was always going to be a contender.

But after the slalom with Goetschl two seconds behind her, most people reckoned that downhill specialist Goetschl would make up most of that.

"One thing in Kostelic's favour was that the downhill was quite short"
Martin Bell

There was nothing special about Kostelic winning the slalom - she was expected to win.

But in the downhill, she was only seven tenths of a second slower than Goetschl.

In World Cup downhills, she's usually been more like two seconds behind Goetschl.

Though, one thing in Kostelic's favour was that the downhill was quite short.

I would almost go as far as to say it was unfair to a downhiller like Goetschl to contest the downhill portion of this event over a course that was just one minute 15 seconds long.

But Kostelic did ski better than expected and it's also impressive because the Croatian has had a difficult time recently.

In addition to recovering from her knee operation over the summer, she was complaining of back pains just before the Olympics started.

It was definitely quite a good result for bronze medallist Martina Ertl.

She also skied a better downhill than expected.

She's been a very reliable contender in the combined over the years - it's great to see.

The downhill run from Britain's medal hope Chemmy Alcott was roughly what I expected.

She was about three and a half seconds back on Goetschl which, considering it's a short course, is a fair amount of time.

She dropped two places from the slalom to the downhill, but I expected that because Chemmy is not very experienced at downhill at this level.

If she starts to do some more downhill and some serious downhill training and get proper ski testing, I think she could become a top contender in combined events.

She always has been a very promising slalom skier and everyone has been waiting for the day that she overtakes Emma Carrick-Anderson and becomes our best slalom skier.

Emma is still going strong, Chemmy is definitely biting at her heels.

A slow starter

Although she was very promising at 16 years old, her move up the ranks has been delayed.

This is because two years ago, Chemmy's parents decided she should miss almost an entire year of competition in order to do her A-Levels exams.

To be honest, it's not a decision that I would have taken.

Exams and qualifications can always be done at a later stage in life and, if you're serious about a sport, you need to keep competing at the highest levels.

So she's definitely got a bit of deficit to make up against other girls of her generation, but I'm sure she can do it because the one thing that impresses me about Chemmy is her positive attitude.

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