Friday, January 13, 2006

Raich grabs lead heading to Lauberhorn weekend

Park City's Ligety adds silver in slalom

Wengen's Lauberhorn weekend is waiting in the wings for World Cup alpine men, and there is a new leader in the men's overall standings.

Austria's Benjamin Raich, 27, won Saturday's men's giant slalom at Adelboden, Switz. and placed third in Sunday's slalom to vault into the 18-race lead with 606 points and bump two Yanks into second place.

Giant slalom leader Raich stands 117 points ahead of Bode Miller (7th-DH, 17th-SG, 6th-GS, 3rd-combined) and Daron Rahlves (4th-DH, 6th-SG, 10th-GS). Miller and Rahlves each have 489 overall points.

Big positive news for the Americans last weekend was another strong performance by 21-year-old second-year national team racer Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah. Ligety produced his second and third podiums of the 2005-06 season.

On an icy course Sunday, Ligety was second in slalom at Adelboden behind unbeaten slalom leader Giorgio Rocca of Italy. Coach Phil McNichol said, "Ted is skiing so solid, he's just a slalom machine."

After four slaloms Ligety (240 points) is second behind Rocca (400) in the slalom standings. He has two thirds, a sixth and a second to date.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Janica Kostelic of Croatia stretched her overall lead to 147 points over two-time defending World Cup overall queen Anja Paerson, 24, of Sweden. Kostelic was second in Sunday's slalom at Maribor, Slovenia that was won by Marlies Schild of Austria.

U.S. racer Kristina Koznick placed fourth Sunday and Lindsey Kildow, 21, of Vail was ninth in slalom.

Slalom co-leader Kostelic now has 732 points while giant slalom pacesetter Paerson stands at 585 and Schild tied super giant slalom pacesetter Michaela Dorfmeister for third place, each with 510 points. Downhill leader Kildow fell to fifth (478).

The men's World Cup heads to Wengen, Switz. for three races this coming weekend—a one-day super combined Friday, the 76th running of the Lauberhorn downhill Saturday and another slalom Sunday.

Next women's races are two downhills and super giant slalom Friday through Sunday, Jan. 13-15 at Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.

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