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Herbst makes it 2-for-2 in slalom

Austria's Reinfried Herbst speeds down to the course to clock the second fastest time during the first run of an alpine ski, Men's World Cup Slalom race, in Alta Badia, Italy, Monday, Dec. 21,2009.(AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
ASSOCIATED PRESS | AP

ALTA BADIA, Italy – Reinfried Herbst made it two wins in two slalom races this season with a victory Monday on the Gran Risa course.

Moving up from second after the first leg, Herbst won in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 49.31 seconds. Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland had the fastest second leg and finished runner-up, 0.08 seconds behind, and first-run leader Manfred Pranger ended up third, 0.17 back.

Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety struggled with the setting and failed to qualify for the second run in 39th place, while American teammate Bode Miller sat out to rest his sore ankle. Jimmy Cochran was the only American to complete both runs, finishing in ninth place.

Still, Raich maintained a 12-point lead over Carlo Janka in the overall World Cup standings. The Swiss skier straddled the second gate on course in the opening run.

“I am exceeding expectations,” Herbst said. “I wanted to have a good start but I wasn’t expecting this.”

Herbst, the Austrian who also won the season’s first slalom in Levi, Finland, has a perfect 200 points in the slalom standings, while Zurbriggen is second with 102. It was the seventh career World Cup victory for Herbst, who won a silver medal in slalom at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Herbst let out a series of screams and fist pumps after crossing the finish, then celebrated some more after Pranger – who won the slalom at last season’s world championships in Val d’Isere, France – crossed behind him.

Pranger, who had back surgery in April, was happy to have made the top three.

“When you are leading you always go for the win but considering my back problem I’m still happy with the podium,” Pranger said.

Olympic slalom champion Benjamin Raich was third after the opening leg but fell midway down the second run.

Local favorite Manfred Moelgg of Italy finished fourth and Michael Janyk of Canada was fifth.

Janyk comes from Whistler, British Columbia, the resort that will host the Alpine events at the Vancouver Olympics in February.

Croatian coach Ante Kostelic, whose son Ivica is out following knee surgery, set a tricky course for the first run with a quick series of gates on a roll midway down, causing trouble for several of the favorites.

Among those who didn’t make it down in the opening leg were 2007 slalom world champion Mario Matt, German standout Felix Neureuther and promising Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher, who posted his first victory in a giant slalom eight days ago.

After a short break for Christmas, the men’s circuit resumes with the physically demanding downhill in Bormio on Dec. 29.


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