Raich wins men’s GS finale; Cuche takes GS title | AspenTimes.com

Raich wins men’s GS finale; Cuche takes GS title

Stephan Nasstrom
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Austria's Benjamin Raich powers past a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, Men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Are, Sweden, Friday, March 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Elvis Piazzi)

ARE, Sweden ” Benjamin Raich of Austria won the World Cup giant slalom Friday to move within two points of the overall leader, and Didier Cuche of Switzerland clinched the discipline title for the first time.

Raich had a two-run total of 2 minutes, 18.95 seconds down the Olympia course. Ted Ligety of the United States, last season’s GS champion, was 0.13 behind in second place. Cuche finished third, 0.71 behind.

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, skiing despite a cold, wound up 19th and out of the points. He leads Raich by only two points going into Saturday’s slalom, the final race of the season. That bodes well for Raich, a gate specialist, whereas Svindal has failed to get a single point in the discipline this season.

“Now it’s close … only two points,” Raich said. “I have a good chance for tomorrow, but it’s always tough to get in the points.”

The first run was held under sunny skies in near-perfect racing conditions. The second took place in heavy snowfall and visibility was poor, especially for the late finishers.

“The visibility was very bad, it was crazy, but I did very well,” Raich said.

Cuche clocked the third-fastest time in the opening run, 0.86 behind Raich, despite dropping one of his poles at the top of the course.

“I had to manage 40 gates with just one pole, it wasn’t easy,” Cuche said.

The 2007 overall champion, Svindal has 1,009 points atop the standings. Raich, the 2006 overall champion, moved to 1,007. Cuche is third with 919.

“I skied so bad in the first run, it was hard to recharge for the second run,” Svindal said.

Cuche topped the final GS standings with 474 points. Raich was second with 462 and Ligety third with 421.

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