Ligety takes 3rd; Grange captures 1st |

Ligety takes 3rd; Grange captures 1st

Ted Ligety, of the United States, speeds past a pole on his way to place 3rd in an Alpine Ski World Cup Men's slalom race on the Gran Risa course, in Alta Badia, Italy, Monday, Dec.17, 2007. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

ALTA BADIA, Italy – All it took for Ted Ligety to get to the podium was leaving the mind games behind and making it to the finish.The Olympic combined champion completed his first slalom of the season Monday and came in third. Ligety failed to finish his opening run in the season’s first two World Cup slaloms, then skied out in a lower-tier race last week.”After the first couple of races not finishing it definitely gets in your head a bit,” the American said. “I was really trying to push the limits and it wasn’t working, so today I tried to just make it to the finish line first run. Second run I let it go a little more.”He finished behind winner Jean-Baptiste Grange, a Frenchman who won for the first time on the World Cup circuit, and runner-up Felix Neureuther of Germany. Olympic slalom champion Benjamin Raich and Bode Miller both skied off course in the opening leg.Grange was fastest in both legs on the Gran Risa course and had a combined time of 1 minute, 36.12 seconds to move to first in the slalom standings. Neureuther, who moved up from fifth after the opening run, was 0.74 seconds behind. Ligety, who jumped from 12th position, was 1.40 back.

The turning point in Ligety’s career came at the 2006 Turin Games, when he won a gold medal before he had even won a World Cup race.The Olympic success has brought opportunities beyond racing. He was appointed director of skiing for the next 20 years at a new real estate development in Utah called Mt. Holly Club.”It’s kind of my retirement plan right now,” Ligety said with a laugh. “I’m psyched for it. It’s something I can look forward to, especially once I’m done ski racing.”Due to open within a year, the sprawling site halfway between Park City and Las Vegas will include a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and its own ski area. One of the 1,200 homes will be Ligety’s.Ligety will have some say in the ski resort’s design.

“I may have some input as far as run layouts and stuff like that,” he said.For now, Ligety is focusing on racing.This was Ligety’s third top-three finish of the season after two top results in giant slalom, good enough to lead the GS standings. Raich still holds a 521-453 lead over Didier Cuche in the overall standings.Ligety moved up from eighth to fourth overall with 335 points.”I don’t look at it this year, but hopefully in the future,” Ligety said, referring to the overall standings. “It’s not a priority this year.”

Ligety placed fifth in Sunday’s GS after being penalized for showing up a few minutes late to the public bib draw the night before the race. He was forced to start 46th and was fined $867.”I just had to persevere and not let it bother me too much,” he said. “I was a little frustrated but I got over it today.”Grange leads the slalom standings with 176 points. Marc Gini of Switzerland, who finished seventh, is second with 149 points, and Raich is third with 136.Grange won the bronze medal in slalom at last season’s world championships in Are, Sweden.”The turning point in my career came in Are,” he said. “I proved something to myself and showed I can do it, and that helped me excel today and handle the pressure.”

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