Raich wins men’s World Cup slalom | AspenTimes.com

Raich wins men’s World Cup slalom

Karel Janicek
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Benjamin Raich, of Austria, slaloms past a pole on his way to winning an Alpine Ski, World Cup Men's Slalom, in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria ” Benjamin Raich downplayed his overall lead in the World Cup standings after winning the slalom Sunday for his first victory of the season.

“The lead is good but not very important at the moment,” said Raich, who was fourth in Saturday’s giant slalom. “There are so many races ahead before the end of the season.”

The 2006 overall champion led after the opening run and was third fastest in the second run to complete the steep Franz Klammer course in a combined time of 1 minute, 34.46 seconds.

“I let the skis go and it was a big day for me,” Raich said.

The Austrian skier’s previous best result this season was second in Lake Louise, Alberta. Last year, when he finished second overall ” 13 points behind Svindal ” Raich won six events.

“Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for it,” Raich said.

The victory lifted Raich to the top of the overall standings with 405 points. Defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal was leading the standings when he crashed in downhill training in Beaver Creek, Colo., last week, and did not compete.

Jens Byggmark was second, 0.66 seconds behind Raich, for his first podium finish of the season. Manfred Moelgg of Italy finished third in 1:35.18, after coming second in giant slalom on Saturday.

Ted Ligety of the United States failed to complete the first run, while teammate Jimmy Cochran did not finish the second. Bode Miller failed to qualify for the final run after finishing 45th in the first.

Byggmark likes competing in Austria.

“There’s always good snow,” said the Swede, whose two slalom wins came in Kitzbuehel in January.

“I knew that (Raich) was going to beat me,” Byggmark said. “He’s a really big skier. He doesn’t make mistakes.”

Italy’s Patrick Thaler delivered the fastest second run and climbed to fourth place from 28th.

“That was a good run, I’m happy with it,” he said.

Cristian Deville finished fifth to complete Italy’s strong performance in the weekend’s technical events in this southern Austrian resort. Massimiliano Blardone won the giant slalom on Saturday.

Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland finished 16th and is second overall with 332 points. Swiss speed specialist Didier Cuche is third with 273.

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