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Hosp's giant slalom win clinches overall World Cup title

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- After a five-month season, it
all came down to seven-hundredths of a second -- the margin by which
Aksel Lund Svindal won the World Cup overall title.

Needing a finish of 15th or better to ensure victory over
Austria's Benjamin Raich, Svindal finished 15th in the slalom
Sunday in the final World Cup event of the season. Raich won the
race, but finished 13 points behind Svindal in the overall
standings.

The women's overall crown went to Nicole Hosp, who won a giant
slalom to hold off Austrian teammate Marlies Schild. Julia Mancuso,
who fell out of contention for the overall title a day earlier, was
11th Sunday to finish third overall -- the best showing by an
American woman since Tamara McKinney was third in 1984.

"I think that it was really cool to be a contender to the
end," Mancuso said.

Svindal completed Sunday's two runs in 1 minute, 43.62 seconds
to place 15th, just ahead of Martin Hansson's time of 1:43.69. Only
the top 15 finishers earn points, and Svindal would have lost the
title by three points if he had finished further back.

"I was so nervous at the finish line," said Svindal, the first
Norwegian to win the overall title in eight years.

American Ted Ligety was 14th, while teammate Bode Miller didn't
finish his first run. Miller placed fourth in the overall
standings.

"The overall World Cup title is the greatest prize there is,"
said Svindal, who also won the giant slalom and combined titles
this season. "To win it in the last run, in the last race of the
season, is just crazy."

Raich won the slalom in 1:39.78. Mario Matt of Austria was
second in 1:40.75, and Manfred Moelgg of Italy was third in
1:41.52.

"Aksel is a good athlete, a good skier and a super person. I
can only congratulate him," said Raich, who won the World Cup
slalom title.

Hosp had two flawless runs in the giant slalom on the Silvano
Beltrametti course to win in 2:11.98, a stunning 1.42 seconds
faster than Kathrin Hoelzl of Germany. Michaela Kirchgasser of
Austria was third in 2:13.51.

"A lot of things were going through my head, but I worked hard
to concentrate on just skiing well," Hosp said. "Everything went
perfect today."

The victory came a day after Hosp claimed the overall lead with
her first slalom win of the season -- a race Schild was favored to
win. But Schild twice veered off course Saturday and hiked back
uphill to rerun the gates. She needed to make up 30 points Sunday
on Hosp to win the World Cup crystal globe.

"I had no feeling in the first run. I quite simply bungled
it," Schild said.

Hosp finished with 1,572 points. Schild had 1,482 and Mancuso
followed with 1,356.

Hosp posted four World Cup wins this season in three events --
slalom, GS and combined -- and finished runner-up in eight other
races. She won gold in the GS last month at the world championships
in Are, Sweden, where she also picked up a bronze in the downhill.

It marked the first time in five years an Austrian woman had won
the overall title. The last four were evenly shared by Sweden's
Anja Paerson and Croatia's Janica Kostelic.