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World Cup skiing

Ligety wins GS; Vonn builds lead

A change of venue was a stroke of luck for American Ted Ligety, who won the giant slalom for his first World Cup victory this season. A change of venue was a stroke of luck for American Ted Ligety, who won the giant slalom for his first World Cup victory this season. (Samo Vidic/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Associated Press / January 30, 2010

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Ted Ligety must have smiled when the World Cup giant slalom scheduled for Adelboden, Switzerland, was rescheduled for Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, one of his favorite hills.

The rest of the field probably grimaced.

Ligety won his first World Cup race of the season yesterday, carving over the Pokoren 3 course in a combined time of 2 minutes 22.02 seconds to win the event for the third straight year. It was his fifth career victory.

“It’s pretty awesome,’’ said Ligety, who will be part of the US Alpine team headed to Vancouver next month. “I’ve always had a good feeling on this hill, and I have been lucky enough to win three times. I feel like I am always doing better toward the end of the season.’’

The venue was changed after fog prevented the event from being held in Adelboden.

“It’s definitely a big advantage for me having done so well here in the past,’’ Ligety said. “I have never done well in Adelboden.’’

Marcel Hirscher of Austria was 0.34 seconds back in second. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway took third, 0.51 behind Ligety, while US Olympian Tommy Ford finished 21st.

Bode Miller skipped the race to rest his sore ankle before next month’s Olympics.

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway led Ligety by 0.01 seconds after the opening run on the technically demanding hill, but had a poor start and lost time throughout his second run. The defending overall World Cup champion finished fourth, 0.82 seconds behind.

Ligety passed Austria’s Benjamin Raich for first place in the GS standings with 292 points. Raich and Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone are second at 259 with two races left.

With another giant slalom scheduled for today, Ligety is the favorite to clinch the discipline’s crystal globe after winning it in 2008. A slalom is scheduled for tomorrow.

“It’s still anybody’s race, but it’s nice to have little bit of a buffer,’’ said Ligety, who won combined gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

In St. Moritz, Switzerland, Lindsey Vonn extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings, skiing a cautious slalom run to finish third in a super combined won by Sweden’s Anja Paerson.

Vonn earned 60 World Cup points to build a 116-point lead over Germany’s Maria Riesch, who skied out of the super-G in the first run. Vonn said her mind-set switched after Riesch misjudged her line and skied left of a gate near the bottom.

“That definitely changed my tactics quite a bit in the slalom run,’’ Vonn said. “If [Maria] would have finished and been competitive in the super-G, I would have had to risk a lot more. I took it easy and made it down.’’

Paerson clocked 2:00.54 in the combined super-G and slalom runs on the Corviglia course.

Vonn said she got a mental boost ahead of the super-combi race at the Olympics, scheduled for Feb. 14 on Whistler Mountain.