Mon, Dec 19, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Blardone wins giant slalom on favorite course

AFP and AP, ALTA BADIA, ITALY

Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone won yesterday’s men’s alpine World Cup giant slalom race on his favorite slope with Austrian duo Hannes Reichelt and Philipp Schorghofer in second and third.

The 32-year-old local was notching up his third success at Alta Badia, after winning there in 2009 and 2005 for his sixth career World Cup success.

With half his World Cup haul coming from the Gran Risa course, Blardone was always going to prove a danger to his rivals and so it proved as he posted the sixth fastest time after the first leg to go on and prevail by 35 seconds over Reichelt.

The American master of the discipline, Ted Ligety, led going into the second leg, but the world champion faded to narrowly miss the podium in the second run.

However, he retained his comfortable 65 point lead in the World Cup giant slalom standings from Austria’s Maqrcel Hirscher who came in fifth.

Ligety clocked a time of 1 minute, 27.96 seconds in the first leg for a 0.49 second lead over Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher, with overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway third, 0.66 seconds back heading into the second leg.

The opening run was held in perfect conditions, with temperature well below freezing keeping the course hard and icy as the skiers like it.

Gran Risa is often called the “holy grail” of giant slalom.

Winding its way through the forest with a steep pitch before flattening out into the valley floor, it demands a complete set of skills as it switches from hard-edged turns to a gliding section over a series of rolls into the finish.

The course is also lengthy and at nearly 90 seconds it takes longer to complete than Friday’s shortened super-G in Val Gardena, making conditioning key.

A slalom is scheduled for Gran Risa today.

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