Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland wins GS | AspenTimes.com

Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland wins GS

Erica Bulman
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Switzerland's Daniel Albrecht fights to regain control as he skis the second run on his way to winning the World Cup Giant Slalom ski race on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007, in Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. ” Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland won a World Cup giant slalom on Sunday for his second victory in four days.

Albrecht, who was only 11th after the opening leg, delivered a stunning second run to complete the Birds of Prey course in a combined time of 2 minutes, 24.30, just .05 ahead of Austrian Mario Matt.

Albrecht, who posted his first career World Cup victory Thursday in the super-combi, sat in the finish area watching as 10 other racers failed to match his time.

“It was strange for me in the finish because everyone that went after me was faster until the last interval,” Albrecht said. “Each time I thought, ‘OK, this guy’s going to be faster.’ But each of them lost time at the bottom and finished behind me.”

Albrecht said the growing shadow on the lower section of the course was likely the reason the later skiers lost so much time at the bottom.

Didier Cuche of Switzerland, who led after the opening run, trailed Albrecht by .11 to finish third.

A speed specialist, Cuche’s only GS victory came in January 2002. The 33-year-old Swiss was also third in Friday’s downhill.

“It’s frustrating because I made the podium a few times already in GS, but my only GS victory was a long time ago,” Cuche said. “I don’t want to quit my career without winning my second GS. That’s why I was pushing today. Maybe a bit too much.”

Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety of the United States tied for fourth with Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone, missing the podium by just .04. Blardone, who won the GS here last season, was second after the opening leg.

“Daniel just killed it down there, I guess,” Ligety said. “He’s on fire right now. Two wins in a weekend is tremendous and he’s fast in super-G for tomorrow, too.”

Ligety, whose sole World Cup victory came in a GS in March 2006 in South Korea, said he lost the race due to a mistake coming over the last bump. Both courses were set very straight, which doesn’t suit him.

“I know I have a lot of speed in GS right now,” Ligety said. “It’s just those straight courses like there was today that I definitely struggle on.

“I’m happy being fourth. I wish it were a tighter, turnier course today, but that’s what happens. I can’t count on that.”

Bode Miller, who won the giant slalom here two years ago, messed up in the opening leg. Just 45 seconds into the run, he lost his edge and went down on his hip on a turn. Miller hiked up to re-ski the gate but finished more than 10 seconds off the pace.

The 30-year-old American angrily left the finish area without putting on a coat or returning his race bib.

With his result, Cuche took over the lead of the overall standings from World Cup overall and giant slalom champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

After seven races, Cuche tops the table with 235 points, with Svindal dropping to second on 234 and Albrecht climbing to third with 222.

Svindal, the winner of the season-opening GS in October, remained hospitalized after a downhill training crash Tuesday left him with facial fractures and groin injuries. His season could be over, the team doctor said.

Earlier in the day, Martina Schild won a women’s super-G at Lake Louise, Alberta.

It marked the first double win for Swiss skiers since Jan. 6, 2001. Then, Sonja Nef won a GS at Maribor, Slovenia, and Michael von Gruenigen another at Les Arcs in France.

Already this season, the Swiss have twice as many victories as in any of the last six seasons.

Their results confirm their breakthrough last season, when Marc Berthod posted his maiden career World Cup victory to end three-year winless streak for the Swiss ” one that stretched to seven years in slalom.

Once an Alpine skiing superpower, Switzerland had begun to struggle a decade ago while Austria has taken over for the last 14 years.

Repeated changes in the coaching staff, a focus on the nation’s stars at the cost of the development teams and poor equipment choices had all lead to Switzerland’s decline.

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