Raich overcomes tough course to win super-combi
VAL D'ISERE, France -- Benjamin Raich of Austria won the World Cup super-combi Friday on a tough course that Bode Miller couldn't finish and gave Ted Ligety fits.
In the opening super-G, defending champion Miller mistimed a gate near the midsection, spinning around a pole before sitting down. Miller banged his ankle but should be ready to compete in the giant slalom this weekend, U.S. team officials said.
In the slalom run, American Ligety skied too wide on two gates and finished 27th on the tricky Face de Bellevarde course.
"I'm not so much disappointed as I am annoyed," Ligety said. "It wasn't easy because it was so tight, and the snow was inconsistent."
Raich finished in 51.07 seconds for a combined time of 2 minutes, 2.48 seconds. Jean-Baptiste Grange of France was second and Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third.
"It's a hill on which you have to fight, otherwise it's impossible to finish," Raich said. "The snow is very complicated. Sometimes it's aggressive snow, sometimes it's icy snow."
Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal failed to finish the first run. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who was third after the super-G, lost his balance on the second run.
Earlier Friday, Carlo Janka of Switzerland won the super-G in 1:11 ahead of John Kucera of Canada. Raich and Ligety, the reigning giant slalom champion, were tied for fourth after the super-G.
The Face de Bellevarde course was used at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, and will be the site for the world championships in Val d'Isere next year.
"It's really tight, technical; it's very difficult, you have to fight hard all the way," Kucera said. "You're not going to feel good, so you just have to be quick on your feet."
It was the first time a super-G had been held on Bellevarde since Albertville. Many skiers struggled as 16 of the first 45 racers failing to complete the course.
"No one really knew what to expect," Kucera said. "I was the first guy [to finish]. Essentially, we were skiing blind. Just try to see how it goes."
Originally scheduled for Dec. 4 in Beaver Creek, Colo., the super-combi was canceled after 7 inches of snow fell at the Colorado resort overnight.
Following his victory in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek on Sunday, Raich feels he's getting back to his best.
"It's exciting for me for sure," said the 30-year-old, an Olympic champion in slalom and giant slalom two years ago in Turin. "It looks like I have the rhythm now for such victories. I have confidence for sure."
The giant slalom is Saturday, followed by the slalom on Sunday.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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