Carlo Janka of Switzerland won the men’s giant slalom at the World Championships on Friday and dedicated the victory to his injured friend Daniel Albrecht.
Albrecht woke on Thursday from a three-week induced coma at a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, after sustaining lung and brain injuries when he crashed heavily in downhill training at Kitzbuehel on Jan. 22.
Janka is Albrecht’s regular roommate and his closest friend on the Swiss team.
“For sure it was good news that I got before the race,” Janka said through a translator. “It really boosted my morale and I would say that I share this medal with him. It’s a great day for Swiss skiing and we hope we will soon see Daniel back with us.”
Janka timed 2 minutes, 18.82 seconds for the two runs down the Face de Bellevarde course.
Benjamin Raich of Austria finished second, 0.71 seconds behind, and Ted Ligety of the US was third, 0.99 seconds back.
Janka, known as “Iceman” in Switzerland for his laid-back personality, was deeply affected by Albrecht’s accident. He raced at Kitzbuehel only after long talks with the Swiss team coaches.
Albrecht won silver in the giant slalom at the last worlds and had been scheduled to defend his world title in the super-combined.
“There is a very a strong camaraderie between myself and Daniel,” Janka said. “We share the same ski supplier, we work together and are really good buddies.”
Janka was widely favored for the giant slalom after finishing his preparations at Veysonnaz, Switzerland, earlier this week. He relishes the technical Bellevarde slope, taking bronze in last weekend’s downhill and winning a World Cup giant slalom race at Val d’Isere in December.
Olympic giant slalom champion Raich also went home to train this week. The 30-year-old Austrian was under pressure to deliver his country’s first medal in the men’s races at the fourth attempt.
Raich, a two-time World Cup giant slalom champion who leads the current discipline standings, trailed Janka by 0.48 seconds after the first run and could not apply any pressure before the Swiss was last to race.
Ligety leaped into the bronze medal position after being ninth fastest in the morning run. His second run of 1 minute, 9.85 seconds was the best time of the afternoon and secured the first medal for the US men at Val d’Isere.
“I just tried to get all my nerves out,” Ligety said. “I knew I had a bad first run and had to give everything and attack all the way. I got lucky.”
Ligety trailed Janka by 1.71 seconds after the first run and was 0.75 seconds away from the podium.
“It took a little bit of skill, but coming out of ninth to make up that amount of time is luck as well,” he said.
It’s a second major championship medal for the 24-year-old American. He won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics in the traditional combined.
Austrian teenager Marcel Hirscher placed fourth, 0.07 seconds off a medal.
Bode Miller’s disappointing championships continued.
After being 17th in the first run, the 2003 world champion in giant slalom skied out before halfway in the afternoon. He was the only one of the top 30 morning racers not to complete the second leg.
The 31-year-old is now winless in 26 World Cup and four world championship races this season.