Ligety wins World Cup giant slalom |

Ligety wins World Cup giant slalom

Eric Willemsen, The Associated Press

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

The rest of the field probably grimaced.

Ligety won his first World Cup race of the season Friday, 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 third podium of the season and fifth career victory.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Ligety, who will be part of the U.S. 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 race switched venues after fog scratched the event in Adelboden, Switzerland.

“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 U.S. 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 overtook Benjamin Raich of Austria for first place in the GS standings with 292 points. Raich and Massimiliano Blardone of Italy share second at 259 with two races left.

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

“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. “I have a lot of confidence now, but it’s super hard in this sport to repeat your success and to have good race after good race.”

Raich skied off course and almost missed a gate before placing 11th to keep the lead in the overall standings with 927 points. Main rival Carlo Janka of Switzerland finished seventh and narrowed the gap to 62 points.

Ligety moved up to sixth in the overall standings.

Didier Cuche of Switzerland, a two-time winner in Kitzbuehel last week, was disqualified for missing the final gate. Cuche hit the next-to-last gate with his right ski, fell and lost a ski before sliding over the finish line.

The Olympic medal contender broke his right thumb, putting his participation at the Vancouver Games in question. The Swiss ski federation said Cuche traveled back to Switzerland and will have surgery in Zurich on Saturday.

“More details regarding possible consequences for participation at the Olympic Winter Games will be available after the operation,” the federation said in a statement.

In the opening run, Ivica Kostelic of Croatia crashed as he was thrown off course. He fell backward with his skis up and slid into the safety nets, but did not appear hurt.

Marcus Sandell of Finland was one of the race forerunners. His left kidney was removed because of a September crash during training in Austria.

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