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Poutiainen wins World Cup opener in Austria; overall champion Vonn 9th

An ecstatic Poutiainen celebrates her World Cup victory in Austria.
An ecstatic Poutiainen celebrates her World Cup victory in Austria.
  • Tanja Poutianen claims World Cup season-opener in Austria
  • Finn edges Kathrin Zettel of Austria by just 0.01 seconds in giant slalom
  • Reigning World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn finishes ninth
  • Austria's Nicole Hosp ruled out for season after heavy crash

(CNN) -- Finland's Tanja Poutiainen beat Kathrin Zettel of Austria by the slenderest of margins to win the opening race of skiing's World Cup season at Soelden in Austria on Saturday.

Poutiainen was trailing Zettel at the final checkpoint on the Rettenbach glacier but made up time on the bottom section to win by 0.01 seconds in the giant slalom.

She had a two-run time of two minutes 24.96 seconds to claim the ninth victory of her World Cup career.

Denise Karbon of Italy led after the opening run but could not produce that form second time down to finish third, 0.32 seconds adrift.

Compatriot Manuela Moelgg, who was second in the morning leg, saw her victory chances disappear with a fall.

Defending overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn of the United States is still searching for her first win in giant slalom after placing ninth, while teammate Julia Mancuso, the Olympic champion in the discipline, failed to finish the second leg.

Tina Maze of Slovenia finished fourth with Swedish pair Maria Pietilae-Holmner and the ever-consistent Anja Paerson rounding out the top six.

But former overall World Cup champion Nicole Hosp of Austria looks set to be sidelined for the season after being airlifted off the course to a hospital in Innsbruck after a nasty fall.

She suffered ligament damage to her right knee on her return to racing after a crash in Croatia in January.

The men's World Cup season starts on Sunday with a giant slalom on the same piste which is one of the most difficult on the circuit.