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 . world ski news
12 January 2006 - 15:37
Alpine World Cup in Adelboden and Maribor
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Rocca stays perfect in slalom

ADELBODEN, Switzerland, Sunday January 8, 2006 (AP) - Giorgio Rocca of Italy remained unbeaten in the slalom this season, capturing a World Cup race Sunday in which Ted Ligety of the United States finished a career-best second despite a costly mistake on a treacherous and icy slope.

Italy's Giorgio Rocca clears a gate during the first run in the men's Alpine ski World Cup slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, January 8, 2006. Rocca, winner of all three slaloms held since the start of the season, clocked the fastest time in the first leg. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

Slalom world champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, winner of the previous day's giant slalom, was third. Overall champion Bode Miller veered off course in the first run.

Rocca, winner of all four slaloms, completed the two runs on the Chuenisbaergli course in 1 minute, 39.14 seconds, with Ligety 0.60 seconds behind.

Italy's Giorgio Rocca shows the number four after winning his fourth consecutive alpine ski World Cup men's slalom race in Adelboden, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan.8, 2006. (AP Photo/Andrea Rustioni)

"It was a very tough slalom, and I was able to make the most of my early start number in the first run," said Rocca, the first skier to out of the hut that morning. "Despite a small mistake in the second run, I managed to win."

This was the third top-three finish for Ligety. The 21-year-old American was finished third in slaloms at Beaver Creek, Colo., and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

Midway down, he lost control and nearly missed a gate.

"It's a great day. I wish I didn't make that mistake," Ligety said. "I was charging the whole way down. I was a bit surprised to have such a good time. With that kind of mistake I didn't expect that. But I need to get those (mistakes) out of my skiing and then maybe I can beat this guy Giorgio Rocca."

Added Rocca: "Ted was very courageous and efficient. ... My real enemy right now is Ted because he is a very strong opponent. Especially in view of the Olympics."

Raich cushioned his lead in the overall standings. He has 606 points while Miller and U.S. teammate Daron Rahlves share second at 489. Austria's Michael Walchhofer is fourth at 470. Rocca tops the slalom standings with a maximum 400 points, with Ligety trailing by 160.

"It's nice to be leading the World Cup and you're always happy to be among those fighting for it," said Raich, who with his coach helped reanimate a man whose heart had stopped at a rest stop on the way to Adelboden on Thursday. "It's a big goal but the finals are still two months away."

Italy's Alberto Tomba holds the record for consecutive slalom wins with seven in a row in the 1994-95 season. Italian men have won 67 World Cup slaloms, passing Austria's record of 66.

Three World Cup slaloms remain before next month's Turin Olympics -- one in Wengen, Switzerland, and two in the Austrian resorts of Kitzbuehel and Schladming.

Austria's Benjamin Raich Wins Final Giant Slalom Before Olympics
by ERICA BULMAN AP Sports Writer

ADELBODEN, Switzerland Jan 7, 2006 — Austria's Benjamin Raich overcame a late mistake Saturday to win a World Cup giant slalom, the last before next month's Olympics, and overtake Daron Rahlves atop the overall standings.

Raich completed the treacherous two runs on the Chuenisbaergli course in 2 minutes, 23.25 seconds for his second straight giant slalom victory.

"I reached a major goal of mine today," said Raich, who won last month at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. "It's a dream come true. It's a classic and a victory means a lot on such a difficult course."

Raich was followed by Fredrik Nyberg of Sweden while Kalle Palander of Finland and Stephan Goergl of Austria shared third. Rahlves crashed during the second run, and U.S. teammate Bode Miller, the overall champion, was 14th.

The 36-year-old Nyberg became the oldest man to finish among the top three in a World Cup race. He beat the mark set by Italy's Kristian Ghedina, who at 35 was runner-up last season in a downhill at Chamonix, France.

"I am a bit proud of this but I'm not going to quit for all that," Nyberg said. "My goal is to ski at the world championships at home in Sweden next year."

Rahlves was 14th in the opening run before his crash near the finish of his second trip. Miller was 16th after his left ski got stuck coming out of the start hut on his first run. Rahlves and Miller are tied for second in the overall standings.

Also for the U.S., Ted Ligety was 13th and Erik Schlopy 15th.

Raich was fastest in the opening leg and was leading at the final split on the second run. He appeared to lose his lead when he slowed at the final breakover, coming to a near stop before attacking the following gate. However, the technical expert finished 0.49 seconds ahead of Nyberg.

"It was a tough mistake," Raich said. "But luckily it was on one of steepest part of course, so I didn't lose momentum and I could regain speed immediately. There was no time to think. … I was also lucky to have a big enough advantage in the first leg."

Raich passed Rahlves for the overall lead with 546 points after 17 events, with Rahlves and Miller at 489. Raich also took the lead of the giant slalom standings after five races with 286 points 22 ahead of Italy's Massimiliano Blardone and 62 more than Nyberg.

"It feels good taking the overall lead," Raich said. "But it's not today I need to be at top but at the end of season."

Schild wins slalom in Slovenia

MARIBOR, Slovenia, 1/8/2006 (AP-CP) - Austria's Marlies Schild won her third straight World Cup slalom Sunday. Schild won the crash-filled race in one minute 48.34 seconds for her seventh career victory and a share of the slalom standings lead with Janica Kostelic of Croatia.

Austria's Marlies Schild slaloms past a pole on her way to win an alpine ski World Cup women's slalom race in Maribor, Slovenia, Sunday, Jan 8, 2006. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

"It's a good experience to win three races in a row, but it's a long time to the Olympics," Schild said, referring to next month's Turin Games. "I hope to keep up my form for then."

Kostelic, racing with a swollen hand, was 0.58 seconds behind in second while Therese Borssen of Sweden was third in 1:49.03.

Ten skiers crashed or slid out on the second run alone, a day after the soft snow was ruled too dangerous for a giant slalom.

One was Kathrin Zettel, the first-run leader who skidded out at the top of the slope. The 19-year-old Austrian - touted by Kostelic as a slalom force one day - was aiming for her first victory.

"I'm very sorry for Kathrin, I know how she must feel," Schild said. "The second run was very difficult. I was very tentative."

American Kristina Koznick matched her best result of the season with fourth in 1:48.91.

Brigitte Acton of Mont-Tremblant, Que., and Britt Janyk of Whistler, B.C., failed to qualify for the second run.

Kostelic and Schild have 360 points in the slalom standings, although Kostelic extended her lead over Anja Paerson in the overall standings. The Swede missed a gate after a mistake at the top of the slope.

Kostelic moved up from eighth on the first run by posting the best time on the second run - 55.86 seconds.

"At this moment, I'm not really happy with my skiing," she said. "Hopefully, I'm feeling better at the Olympics. I'm tired of starting seventh or eighth, then having to attack."

Kostelic, a three-time Olympic champion, injured her hand last week at her home race in Zagreb, losing her glove and pole early in the second run. The gates banged her bare hand all the way down the slope.

"It's OK - it's still black from the swelling," she said. "It hurt on the gates, but it's heavily bandaged."

Giant slalom called off

MARIBOR, Slovenia 1/7/2006 (AP) - Janica Kostelic got another day to nurse her swollen right hand before she resumes her quest to beat Sweden's Anja Paerson for the overall World Cup title.

A giant slalom race in Maribor, Slovenia, was called off Saturday because warm weather led to the snow being dangerously soft.

Organizers are hoping to fix the course in time for a Sunday slalom, then reschedule the giant slalom race for the following day.

"It's OK, I can ski with this hand," Kostelic said. "My hand is pretty good - better than yesterday. I can hold the pole now."

Kostelic's hand is still being rubbed with salves to reduce swelling after she sustained the injury during Thursday's slalom in Zagreb.

There, Kostelic thrilled her home crowd of 25,000 by finishing third despite losing her pole and glove at the start of the second run. She could barely move her fingers after her bare hand slapped the gates all the way down the slope.

Kostelic, who leads the standings ahead of longtime rival Paerson, is already looking ahead to the Winter Olympics, starting Feb. 10, but the Croat isn't predicting a repeat of the 2002 games in Salt Lake City where she claimed three golds.

"My goal this time is one gold medal," Kostelic said.

Kostelic has 652 points in the overall standings, compared with Paerson's 585. The Swede won the season honours last year, edging her rival by three points.

In the giant slalom standings, Paerson has a 285 to 270 lead over Kostelic with three races left in the discipline before the Olympics.

Rain over the past few days, along with rising temperatures, led to the soft snow on Saturday. Despite some protests, many racers agreed the conditions were too risky.

They included Lindsey Kildow, the American leading the downhill standings. She posted a career-best ninth in giant slalom last year in Maribor.

"I was really looking forward to the race, because I know I can do well on this hill," Kildow said. "But I really wouldn't want to compromise my health by racing in conditions like today."

Organizers said the Maribor giant slalom will be held if Sunday's slalom takes place.

With colder weather forecast, they are confident the snow on the Snezni slope can be hardened enough to hold the race. Among other methods, they will water the slope and hope it freezes.

"Tomorrow's slalom is going to be icy," said Filip Gartner, the world skiing body's snow inspector.

The American team can now concentrate on the slalom first. The giant slalom has been the squad's weakest discipline this year.

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Kostelic wins final race before Olympics – 06 February 2006 - 12:28
WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES OPENING ! – 11 February 2006 - 19:03
OLYMPIC DAY 2 – 12 February 2006 - 15:55
OLYMPIC DAY 4 – 15 February 2006 - 15:33
OLYMPIC DAY 5 – 17 February 2006 - 00:39

Nordic news this weekend – 08 January 2006 - 14:08
Austria's Schild crowned Snow Queen – 06 January 2006 - 00:36
TURIN 2006 READY TO HOST WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES – 04 January 2006 - 14:32
Nordic world news – 02 January 2006 - 14:17
US freestyle skiing Olympic trials in Steamboat Springs, Colorado – 31 December 2005 - 18:25

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