Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland won a World Cup giant slalom race ahead of Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic to take the lead in the discipline standings on Sunday.
Albrecht, who was second after the first run, finished with a combined time of 2 minutes, 32.71 seconds on the treacherous Gran Risa course — considered one of the premier giant slaloms on the circuit.
“It’s a very meaningful victory, because this is a so-called classic,” Albrecht said. “It’s like winning the downhill in Kitzbuehel. It’s very special.”
Albrecht edged Kostelic by 0.12 seconds and Hannes Reichelt of Austria finished third, 0.33 seconds back, with defending World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety of the US in fourth — 0.45 seconds out.
Switzerland’s Didier Cuche had a disappointing second run to finish fifth, after posting the fastest time in the first leg.
With the win, Albrecht passed Ligety in the giant slalom standings with 216 points to 212, while Cuche dropped from first to third with 210 points.
Ligety skied slightly off course onto some rougher snow midway through his second run and lost nearly half a second. Warmer conditions changed course conditions drastically for the second leg.
“I just made a mistake and that costs you a ton on this hill, especially when the snow is this soft,” Ligety said. “I feel like I’m skiing well. It’s just a matter of getting to the finish without any mistakes.”
Defending champion Bode Miller stood seventh after the opening leg, but had trouble throughout his second run.
Miller went down on his hip on the top section, recovered, then lost control completely midway down and fell. The New Hampshire resident slid down about 25m on his hip and came to a stop before the safety netting lining the course.
Miller got right up and did not appear injured. He did not come down to the finish area to speak with reporters.
Miller matched his best result of the season with a runner-up finish in the Val Gardena downhill on Saturday, but has failed to finish five of his 12 races this season.
It is the fourth win of Albrecht’s career. The 25-year-old Swiss skier also won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
He had his breakthrough at last year’s World Championships in Are, Sweden, winning the super-combi.
Kostelic was only 12th after the opening run, but had the fifth fastest second leg and had his sister and retired skiing standout Janica Kostelic standing next to him looking at the leaderboard as every other skier came down slower until Albrecht.
Kostelic has won seven slaloms and one super-combi race, but had never come close to winning in giant slalom, with his best previous result eighth in Beaver Creek, Colorado, earlier this month.
“GS [giant slalom] was always my worst discipline, so this was a big surprise for me,” Kostelic said, adding that the soft snow conditions in the second run helped him. “It was bumpy in some places and it was pretty tough to find the right amount of pressure on your edges. In these kind of conditions I can ski pretty good.”
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished eighth and maintained his lead over Cuche in the overall standings.
■ MEN’S SKI JUMP
AP, ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria won a World Cup ski jumping event on Sunday to close the gap on overall leader Simon Ammann.
The 18-year-old Schlierenzauer delivered jumps of 133.5m in both rounds to score 264.1 points. It was his 13th career World Cup win and the second of the season.