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Madonna di Campiglio: Rocca nips Raich; American Ligety sixth

Madonna di Campiglio: Rocca nips Raich; American Ligety sixthMADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy – Giorgio Rocca of Italy won a World Cup slalom race Monday night.

Rocca covered the artificially lit Canalone Miramonti course in a combined time of 1 minute, 32.26 seconds.

Benjamin Raich of Austria finished second, 0.25 seconds behind, and Kalle Palander of Finland was third, 0.89 back.

”It looks like we have a new [Alberto] Tomba,” Palander said of Rocca.

Raich was first after the first run, followed by Palander. Rocca had been tied for third with Thomas Grandi of Canada.

It was Rocca’s eighth career slalom win, tying him with Gustavo Thoeni for second-place all-time among Italians behind Tomba’s 35 victories in the discipline.

”This is a very important win for Italian skiing. The hardest thing to do now is continue like this,” Rocca said, with a nod to the Feb. 10-26 Olympics. ”But I’m not afraid, I prepared myself well this summer.”

First-run leader Raich was the final skier of the night and was set to beat Rocca’s time until he made a minor error just before crossing the finish line. Raich’s split time in the second leg was 0.57 faster than Rocca’s.

”I made a mistake, not a big mistake, but that’s slalom racing,” Raich said.

Bode Miller, who was sixth after the first run, did not finish the second run. American Ted Ligety had another strong day, placing sixth unofficially. Ligety earned his first career World Cup podium Dec. 4 with a third-place slalom effort at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Ligety moved into second in the World Cup slalom standings.

“I skied pretty well today but made a big mistake on the first run and second run, but was able to recover,” said Ligety. “In the second run I was really firing out of the start gate. I made some sweet turns on the top pitch – was killing it on the top!

“Then I got messed up and got a little far back and at one point had both poles headed up the hill, but I was able to find my way down.”

It was the first race in the top seed for Ligety but it didn’t change his approach. “It’s sure nicer skiing number nine than 27,” he said, “but other than that, I don’t approach it any differently.”

Ironically, Ligety made his World Cup slalom debut two years ago on the same hill, finishing 32nd and just missing the cut. The 21-year-old is taking things in stride but also has his eyes focused on the leader.

“Coming into the season Rocca was one of the guys I had been watching to do well,” he said. “So it’s not a surprise to me he’s doing so well.”

Ligety and Miller were the only Americans in the second run. Jimmy Cochran narrowly missed the cut, finishing 31st in the first run, .11 out of 30th.

The World Cup now heads to Val Gardena for a super G Friday and downhill Saturday, then over the mountain to Alta Badia for a giant slalom next Sunday.

– The Associated Press/USSA

Men’s slalom (night)
Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
Dec. 12, 2005

1. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 1:32.26
2. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:32.51
3. Kalle Palander, FIN 1:33.15
4. Thomas Grandi, CAN 1:33.29
5. Jean Pierre Vidal, FRA 1:33.33
6. Ted Ligety, USA 1:33.34
7. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 1:33.67
8. Reinfret Herbst, AUT 1:33.68
9. Patrick Thaler, ITA 1:33.75
10. Markus Larsson, SWE 1:33.97
11. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:33.98
12. Michael Janyk, CAN 1:34.02
13. Hans-Petter Buraas, NOR 1:34.11
14. Akira Sasaki, JPN 1:34.25
15. Andre Myhrer, SWE 1:34.27
16. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 1:34.31
17. Martin Hansson, SWE 1:34.37
18. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 1:34.43
19. Cristian Deville, ITA 1:34.46
20. Patrick Biggs, CAN 1:34.58
21. Johan Brolenius, SWE 1:34.62
22. Kentaro Minagawa, JPN 1:34.65
23. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 1:34.83
24. Jure Kosir, SLO 1:34.92
25. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 1:34.92
26. Giancarlo Bergamelli, ITA 1:35.08
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: James Cochran, USA.
DNF 1st: Tom Rothrock, Chip Knight, USA; Jean-Philippe Roy, Paul Stutz, Julien Cousineau, Ryan Semple, CAN.
DNF 2nd: Bode Miller, USA

By Hank McKee

Men’s slalom, Madonna di Campiglio, Dec. 12, 2005

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Rocca, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5. Vidal, Dynastar/Lange/Look
6. Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
7. Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8. Herbst, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
9. Thaler, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
10. Larsson, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer

Men’s night slalom, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, Dec. 12, 2005. … It is the 10th race of the men’s 34 race, four combined World Cup schedule. … It is the second of 10 scheduled slaloms. … It is the fourth night slalom held at Madonna, the first was held Dec. 13, 1999.

It is the eighth career win for Giorgio Rocca. … All in slalom. … It is his second win of the season in two slaloms held. … He has been second in night slaloms at Madonna twice before (Dec. 10, 2001, and Dec. 15, 2003). … The last Italian to win at Madonna di Campiglio was Alberto Tomba exactly a decade before (Dec. 12, 1995). … Rocca is 30, from Livigno.

It is the 48th career podium for Benjamin Raich. … His 24th in slalom. … He is the defending World Cup slalom champion. … It is the second time he has been second in a night slalom at Madonna, the previous Dec. 13, 1999. … He has never won at the site. … He is 27 from Arzl.

It is the 20th career podium for Kalle Palander. … His 13th in slalom. … It is his first podium at Madonna. … It is his second podium of the season, having also placed third in GS at Beaver Creek Dec. 3. … He is 28 from Torno.

It is the fifth-best career placing for Thomas Grandi. … The second best in slalom (behind second in Kitzbuehel Jan. 25, 2005). … His previous best at Madonna had been 18th. … It is his best placing of the season. … It is the second-best career placing for Ted Ligety behind his third-place finish in Beaver Creek slalom Dec. 4. … It is the third-best career placing for Michael Janyk. … It is his first scoring result of the season. … It is the fifth career scoring result (all in slalom) for Patrick Biggs. … It is his second scoring result of the season. … James Cochran was the 31st finisher in the first run, missing the second heat by .11 of a second.

Top seven finishers each represent different countries. … Bode Miller (2nd run DNF) maintains the World Cup overall points lead 378-367 over Aksel Svindal (11th in race). … Michael Walchhofer (did not race) is third at 318. … Daron Rahlves (did not race) is fourth at 303. … Rocca leads the slalom standings 200-100 over Ted Ligety. … Benjamin Raich and Stephane Tissot (first-run DNF) are tied for third with 80 points. … Winning margin is .25 of a second. … Just top three are within the same second. … Top 14 within two seconds.

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