Grange wins season-opening WCup slalom in Levi
LEVI, Finland – Jean-Baptiste Grange made a perfect comeback Sunday, holding off Andre Myhrer of Sweden to win the season’s first World Cup slalom by 0.33 seconds.
The 2009 slalom World Cup champion missed most of last season with a knee injury, but looked sharp in navigating the Levi Black course in a two-run time of 1 minute, 46.64 seconds.
Bode Miller was among the 30 racers who skied out in the first run. Ted Ligety was the top American, finishing 18th in 1:49.89.
“Today was pretty much a perfect day for me,” Grange said after his first World Cup slalom since November 2009. “In the second run I was able to remain focused and to go for it you know, just thinking about my skiing, just thinking of how I can find my best rhythm.”
The Frenchman led after the first run and had the second-best time behind Myhrer in the second. Myhrer climbed from fourth to second, while Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was nearly a full second back in third.
Myhrer, who won bronze in the Vancouver Olympics, was pleased with his effort.
“I just thought I’d focus on what I have done during training and perform like I do during training and I think I succeeded with that,” he said.
Miller skied off the course on a difficult section just before the steep part of the hill. Defending World Cup slalom champion Reinfried Herbst, Benjamin Raich of Austria and Italian Olympic gold medalist Giuliano Razzoli were among those who also out in the same area.
American Will Brandenburg, who was included in the U.S. team for the Vancouver Olympics but has never finished a World Cup race, was eighth after the first run but skied out in the second leg.
Ligety saw room for improvement in his first run.
“I had a pretty mistake-filled run and it was really bumpy already,” he said. “It’s not that easy up there.”
Levi is some 80 miles north of the arctic circle and is the world’s northernmost World Cup venue. The small resort is hosting World Cup slaloms for the fifth time since 2006.
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