Ligety 4th in giant slalom, stays in title chase | AspenTimes.com

Ligety 4th in giant slalom, stays in title chase

Andrew Dampf
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

Ted Ligety, of the United States, passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, Men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Alta Badia, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

ALTA BADIA, Italy ” Ted Ligety went for a new look with his helmet and goggles. Any fashion statements, however, were backed by solid skiing on a treacherous course.

Ligety, the Olympic combined champion, finished fourth Sunday in a giant slalom and stayed in the chase to keep his World Cup title in the discipline.

Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland was the winner on a Gran Risa course in which Bode Miller fell during the second run. Miller, the defending overall World Cup winner, was seventh after the opening leg.

Miller matched his best result of the season with a runner-up finish in the Val Gardena downhill Saturday but has failed to finish five of his 12 races this season

Albrecht moved in front in the giant slalom standings, leading Ligety 216-212. The Swiss was second after the first run and finished in a combined 2 minutes, 32.71 seconds. Albrecht edged Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic by 0.12 seconds, with Austria’s Hannes Reichelt third.

“It’s a very meaningful victory because this is a so-called classic,” Albrecht said. “It’s like winning the downhill in Kitzbuehel. It’s very special.”

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This was the fourth win of Albrecht’s career. He also won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

Ligety of Park City, Utah, skied slightly off course onto rougher snow midway through his second run and lost nearly half a second. Warmer temperatures changed conditions drastically for the second leg.

“I just made a mistake and that costs you a ton on this hill, especially when the snow is this soft,” Ligety said. “I feel like I’m skiing well. It’s just a matter of getting to the finish without any mistakes.”

Ligety sported a bright green helmet for the first time and goggles featuring a gold-colored band.

“I just think it’s funny to have bright colors,” he said. “It’s kind of retro ’80s, which I think is a sweet style. The goal is to break the mold of the uniformity of normal race gear. Maybe next race I’ll be in a hot pink helmet and who knows what color of goggles.”

Ligety also will be among the favorites for Monday’s slalom on the Gran Risa, having finished on the podium the past two years.

Miller went down on his hip on the top section, recovered, then lost control midway down. The New Hampshire skier slid about 25 yards on his hip, stopping before the safety netting. He got right up and did not appear injured. He did not come to the finish area to speak.

In addition to Ligety, the Americans got a strong showing from former Aspen resident Jake Zamansky, now of Park City, Utah. This was the first time he qualified for a second run on the World Cup tour. He finished 24th.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a good way to end the year on and come back for Adelboden.”

The giant slaloms in Badia and Adelboden, Switzerland, are considered the toughest races in the discipline, making Zamansky’s achievement all the more impressive.

“I’ve been watching this race since I was a little kid, and I’ve always had a funny feeling about it,” he said. “In my first races I always made mistakes, but I finally learned from them. I finally put it all together.”

Switzerland’s Didier Cuche had a disappointing second run to finish fifth, after posting the fastest time in the first leg. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished eighth and maintained a 430-334 lead over Cuche in the overall standings.

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