Raich wins giant slalom; Ligety ninth | AspenTimes.com

Raich wins giant slalom; Ligety ninth

Graham Dunbar
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Austria's Benjamin Raich speeds down the course on his way to clock the fastest time during the first run of an alpine ski, Men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Adelboden, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

ADELBODEN, Switzerland ” Ted Ligety had something to show for his day’s work. Not Bode Miller, who failed to complete a race for the eighth time in 16 events.

Benjamin Raich of Austria won a World Cup giant slalom Saturday, his third win in four years at Adelboden. His two-run time of 2 minutes, 24.95 seconds gave the reigning Olympic GS champion his 33rd World Cup win and the lead in the discipline and overall standings.

Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone, the 2005 champion on this course, was 0.24 seconds behind. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud was third, 0.72 seconds back.

Ligety, the defending World Cup champion in GS, finished ninth on the famously steep Kuonisbaergli course while Miller skied out on the first run.

Ligety remained second in the discipline standings. Raich moved to the top of the GS and overall points races.

Ligety barely made the top-30 cut in the morning. He was taken way wide after approaching a gate too straight halfway down the first run.

“This has never been a hill that’s favored me, but I’m only 45 points shy of Benni for the GS title, so it could have been a lot worse.”

The Park City, Utah, skier had the second-fastest run of the afternoon and finished 1.40 seconds shy of Raich.

“It was incredible that Ted even made the final after the mistake he had in the first run,” said Sasha Rearick, the U.S. men’s coach. “He basically made a pit stop then threw down the hammer to get in there. Skiing from 28th to ninth is good, but it’s not a reflection of how fast Ted can ski.”

Miller hit trouble at the same spot as Ligety. He caught a gate and couldn’t correct his line. He did not ski to the finish area to speak with reporters.

Miller of Franconia, N.H., dropped to 11th in the overall standings, with Ligety taking his place at No. 10. Raich tops the overall World Cup standings with 533 points, and leads the GS standings with 286 points, while Ligety is at 241.

Raich has 13 career GS victories, including at Adelboden in 2006 and ’07. He also won at Beaver Creek, Colo., in December. Raich led Blardone by 0.20 after the first leg and skied solidly to protect his lead in the second. Blardone was also runner-up to Raich at this course two years ago.

“He is such a superstar, for me it’s no problem to be behind him,” the Italian said through an interpreter.

The Austrian’s assured performance helped quiet a typically raucous Adelboden crowd of 25,500 fans.

“It’s great here,” Raich said. “It’s very difficult and a great atmosphere.”

Ligety described the buzz as the craziest he has experienced on the Kuonisbaergli, which has staged its signature race since 1958. No American has won it in the 42-year World Cup era.

“There were fans all the way up the right side of the course,” he said. “They cheer loud and hard for everyone, but it’s several decibels higher for the Swiss guys.”

It was a disappointing day for the Swiss, with Sandro Viletta having the best race to finish fourth. Daniel Albrecht, who led the discipline standings going into the race, was 26th.

Ligety believes he can do more in Sunday’s slalom. He placed second three years ago and Miller won the event in 2002.

“I just don’t think I was 100 percent confident tactically after my first run,” he said. “I just can’t worry about today and I have to move on.”

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