SESTRIERE, Italy -- It took plenty of blood, Swedish sweat and years, but Anja Paerson finally got to stand on a podium without having to look up at Croatia's Janica Kostelic.
After settling for two bronze medals in these Olympics to go with the bronze and silver she won four years ago, Paerson, 24, claimed her first gold medal yesterday by winning a women's slalom conducted in pea-soup fog at Sestriere.
She did it with a winning time of 1 minute, 29.04 seconds and a second run of 46.66 seconds that knocked Kostelic from third to fourth, denying the Croatian her seventh medal.
"It was just one of those days when you have total harmony," Paerson said.
Austria earned its 10th and 11th alpine medals of the Turin Games with Nicole Hosp winning silver and Marlies Schild claiming the bronze.
It was another tough-luck, oh well, alert-the-team-physician day for the medal-starved Americans. Sarah Schleper posted the top finish, at 10th, banged-up Lindsey Kildow ended up 14th and Resi Stiegler finished tied for 17th.
Kristina Koznick, skiing with partially torn knee ligaments, gutted out one slalom but withdrew from a second run after finishing 3.34 seconds off the lead.
She said she would have surgery Monday in Colorado.
"It took a lot of courage to go from being on crutches to being here," Koznick said. "I wanted a fairy tale and I guess it didn't happen, but I'm happy I tried."
Paerson and Kostelic have won four of the past five World Cup overall titles but Kostelic, before yesterday, had always upstaged Paerson in the Olympics.
"She motivates me," Paerson said. "I think I motivate her, too."
Kostelic won three gold medals in Salt Lake City and added a fourth last week in the combined. She also has two silvers to give her six medals, making her the all-time Olympic leader among female alpine skiers.
Chris Dufresne writes for the Los Angeles Times.