ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – Kathrin Zettel of Austria got her first career World Cup victory, winning a women’s giant slalom Saturday.

Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso, who underwent surgery in July for a chronic hip problem, was seventh, more than 3 seconds off the pace.

Zettel, who had been on the World Cup podium eight times previously, was second fastest on the morning’s opening leg and overcame a serious case of the jitters to take the victory with a stellar second run on the Lower Ruthies Run.

The 20-year-old finished with a combined time of 2 minutes, 16.10 seconds to edge Olympic silver medalist Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, the first-run leader.

“I’m speechless. I’ve been the eternal runner-up. I was sure I was going to finish second again,” said Zettel, a three-time runner-up in her career. “I was so nervous. I knew I was in a good position to win but when I saw how Tanja was racing in this morning’s leg I also thought there’s no way I can beat her.”

Zettel was third in the slalom at Levi, Finland, earlier this month, the only other women’s race this season.

Zettel had fond memories of this course in Aspen, having finished third in a giant slalom and slalom here last year, her first full season on the competitive Austrian World Cup team.

Poutiainen settled for second place in 2:16.38. The result helped make up for a disappointing home race earlier this month, where she finished a distant 14th.

Poutiainen, the last racer of the afternoon, prevented an Austrian sweep, with Michaela Kirchgasser placing third and Nicole Hosp fourth.

The giant slalom field is wide open this season with many of the top female skiers struggling with or recovering from injury.

Mancuso said she felt fine during the morning’s run but pain in her hip flared up in the afternoon’s leg because of the jolts caused by ruts in the snow.

Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, last year’s World Cup overall and slalom champion, is sitting out the season because of chronic back and knee pain.

Anja Paerson, the World Cup giant slalom champion and Olympic slalom gold medalist, went off course about halfway down when her outside ski washed out on a right turn.

“It’s high altitude, the snow was aggressive and the course was hard-set,” said the Swede, who was the overall World Cup champion in 2004 and ’05. “I really thought I was in good shape coming into today. It was really bad to go out the way I did. I need to get more races in my system to get my rhythm back.”

American Resi Stiegler, who only eked into the top-30 qualifying group from the morning’s leg after a couple of Austrian skiers were disqualified, finished 20th in 2:21.04 after a strong second run.

Compatriot Jessica Kelley finished 22nd in 2:21.18 after making a stunning recovery when she fell down on her hip.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.