Janka wins World Cup giant slalom in France


VAL D'ISERE, France -- Ted Ligety couldn't see his way to a fifth straight podium finish in World Cup giant slalom.

Battling changing snow and poor visibility, the U.S. skier finished 12th behind winner Carlo Janka of Switzerland on Saturday.

"It was so bumpy you just couldn't see anything. You had to feel your way down," Ligety said. "I was trying hard to go harder, but I just couldn't allow myself to do that when it's like that."

Janka finished in a two-run time of 2 minutes, 22.73 seconds, beating Massimiliano Blardone of Italy by 0.20 seconds.

Ligety, the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion, also had trouble seeing.

"The first five guys or so had nice light condition," Ligety said. "Then it continually got worse and worse until the very end when you were struggling to see it."

Even so, U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick praised Ligety's effort.

"Ted was attacking in the first run and made a mistake," Rearick said. "His ski caught up in between the ice and the grippy, that made it a fantastic recovery. He should have gone out, but with his effort and determination to get down the bottom, he made it."

American Bode Miller, the defending World Cup overall champion, also struggled to with the lighting and finished 24th after going wide on two gates and almost falling on the top section of the tough Bellevarde course.

"The course conditions were tough for everybody, and the changing light definitely played a factor," he said.

Rearick expects fortunes to improve in Sunday's slalom, the third and final day of World Cup skiing in the French Alps.

"We're in a good place in slalom," he said. "The guys need to come out tomorrow with good focus. We should get the job done tomorrow."

Janka, who won the super-G on Friday, had little trouble with the course.

"All the pieces went perfectly together," he said. "The course suits my style. It was just a case of going for it."

Gauthier de Tessieres of France took third in 2:23.17 after finishing 30th in the first run. Manfred Moelgg of Italy dropped to sixth place after leading from the first run.

World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway missed out on a podium place after almost falling.

There were spectacular falls for Alberto Schieppati of Italy and Frederic Covili of France, although both got back up and didn't appear hurt.

Benjamin Raich's bid for a third straight World Cup win ended when he failed to complete his run. The two-time Olympic champion from Austria had won the super-combi on Friday after a brilliant slalom run.

Svindal leads the overall World Cup standings with 395 points heading into Sunday's slalom. Raich is second with 293 points, while Janka improved to third (291).

Didier Cuche of Switzerland finished fifth to move into first place in the giant slalom standings with 165 points, three more than Ligety and seven ahead of Janka.