Blardone wins giant slalom in Austria |

Blardone wins giant slalom in Austria

Karel Janicek
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Italy's Massimiliano Blardone celebrates in the finish area after winning an Alpine Ski, World Cup Men's Giant Slalom, in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Armando Trovati)

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria ” Massimiliano Blardone led Italy’s 1-2 finish in a giant slalom Saturday while Ted Ligety of the United States finished third as the World Cup returned to Europe after a series of races in North America.

Blardone was third after the opening leg but delivered a solid second run to complete the Franz Klammer course in 2 minutes, 10.75 seconds for his fourth career victory in the event. Teammate Manfred Moelgg was 0.09 seconds behind.

“It feels great to win here,” Blardone said. “The first run was not the best for me. I made several mistakes, but I was very fast in the second run and made no mistakes.”

Ligety, the Olympic combined champion, was third in 2:10.92 to keep his overall lead in the discipline. Bode Miller was seventh in the race and is seventh in the overall standings.

Ligety finished second at Soelden, Austria, and was fourth last week at Beaver Creek, Colo.

“It’s not that much fun being second, third and fourth,” he said. “To win would be nice, for sure.”

Ligety, whose only World Cup victory came in a GS race in South Korea last year, finished sixth in the first leg before climbing three spots in the second. He is fifth in the overall standings.

Blardone is third in the discipline standings. This was Moelgg’s first top-three finish in the event.

Mario Matt, a pre-race favorite, missed a gate and failed to complete the opening run. So did fellow Austrians Mario Scheiber and Reiner Schoenfelder, disappointing the home crowd in this resort, which is hosting a World Cup men’s event for the first time since 1992.

The World Cup season looks wide open now that the defending overall champion is out for months with injuries. Aksel Lund Svindal was leading the overall standings when he crashed during downhill training in Beaver Creek last week.

The new overall leader, Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland, finished fifth Saturday. He’s 12 points ahead of 2006 overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria. Raich was fourth Saturday, 0.03 seconds behind Ligety.

World Cup racing resumes Sunday with a slalom.

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