Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Rocca wins slalom, Miller fined

AP , KRANJSKA GORA, SLOVENIAAP, SPINDLERUV MLYN,CZECH REPUBLIC

Giorgio Rocca of Italy clears a gate during the first run of the men's slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia on Thursday. Rocca ended the day in first place.

PHOTO: EPA

Italy's Giorgio Rocca won his third slalom of the season Thursday at a race where Bode Miller was fined for refusing to take a boot test.

Rocca claimed his eighth career title -- all in slalom -- in 1 minute, 35.98 seconds on the steep Kranjska Gora slope. Canada's Thomas Grandi was second in 1:36.62, edging third-place Ted Ligety of the US by .03 seconds.

Rocca has won all three slaloms held this season and established himself as the favorite in the discipline for February's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"I think the pressure is building," Rocca said. "From people in Italy, the pressure is a lot. I am in good form now, but there is still time."

Miller failed to qualify for the second run and lost his hold on first place in the race for the overall title. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal moved to 450 points, with Miller at 442 and Raich at 430.

Afterward, the reigning overall world champion refused to take a random test to check the height of his boot and was fined SF999 (US$762).

The American, who has clashed with ski authorities in the past, said he had already taken off his boots and could have adjusted the height if he wanted.

"It's really typical. With drug testing it's the same way," said Miller, calling the FIS's equipment rules illogical.

Raich started last as the first-run leader and was .76 seconds ahead of Rocca's time when he missed a gate halfway through his run. That cost him the chance to take first in the overall standings.

The 21-year-old Ligety reached the podium for the second time in his career after Beaver Creek earlier this year. He also tightened his grasp on second place in the slalom standings, with 160 to Rocca's perfect 300.

Anja Paerson complained to the International Ski Federation on Thursday about the poor racing conditions at last week's downhill in Val d'Isere, France.

The overall World Cup champion said she delivered a letter of complaint to FIS that was signed by several other speed skiers that had raced the turbulent downhill.

The start of last week's race was delayed for 90 minutes because of heavy winds at the top of the mountain. Fog and snow also made racing difficult.

On several occasions, the race was interrupted because of fog or violent gusts of wind, leaving skiers freezing at the top of the mountain.

"I chose to make letter with just opinions, what we felt was not good for us," Paerson said. "It was hard to be up there at the start with 15-minute holds, the weather and everything."

Lindsey Kildow won the race ahead of Caroline Lalive, who posted her first podium result since placing second in a downhill in March 2002. Austria's Alexandra Meissnitzer was third.

Paerson, who finished 18th, said at the time she couldn't see the gates during her run and called the conditions "unfair." She said World Cup points should not have been awarded under such conditions.

"For us, it feels like too much talking around and [how we feel] is not going to the FIS," Paerson said. "We are not giving the organizers or FIS criticism, just giving our opinion and show we care about the race. And that we want to start having discussions with FIS to let them know we have opinions.

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