Grange wins slalom, Kostelic takes combined event
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Jean-Baptiste Grange of France won a men’s World Cup slalom Sunday, while overall leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia placed second to take the combined event for his sixth title this month.
Bode Miller of the United States skied out in the first run, wasting a good chance to win the combined after placing second in Saturday’s downhill.
Grange overcame a major mistake and used his left arm to avoid a fall while posting the fastest second run in the slalom. He finished in an aggregate of 1 minute, 40.93 seconds for his eighth career win and second of the season after Levi, Finland, in November.
“It’s an amazing win for me,” said Grange, who was expected to be out for several weeks after hurting his shoulder in December. However, the Frenchman returned to the circuit quickly and took third at the Wengen slalom last week.
“I had a fast recovery and to win one of the most difficult slaloms in the world today is just great,” he said.
Kostelic finished 0.28 back despite leading after the first run.
“This weekend gave me wings. If you have finished the Streif (downhill), life is much easier,” said Kostelic, who won Friday’s super-G.
He was 11th in Saturday’s downhill, which counted as a classic-combined event with the slalom.
“For sure, it was the biggest weekend of my career, although I thought it could not get bigger than Wengen,” said Kostelic, who took the combined event and the slalom in the Swiss event.
Miller’s U.S. teammate Ted Ligety also skied out on the first run, as did Austria’s Benjamin Raich.
Nolan Kasper of the United States scored his first World Cup points of the season by finishing 12th, his best career result.
Kostelic earned 180 points Sunday to extend his lead in the overall standings.
He has 1,030 points to lead Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen, who took second in the combined, by 401 points. Third-place Aksel Lund Svindal is 445 behind. The Norwegian skied out in the slalom, which kept him from scoring points in the combined.
“You know, it’s a very difficult event for combined racers,” Kostelic said. “In previous years, I was always holding back a bit on the slalom as I was thinking about the combined. Today, I got that out of my head and just raced the slalom. That was important.”
Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli was 0.69 back in third in the slalom to equal his result from last year.
World Cup slalom champion Reinfried Herbst of Austria finished fifth.
“It’s a difficult course and it’s very icy today,” he said. “Skiing for a home crowd makes you want to do something special.”
Last year’s slalom winner Felix Neureuther of Germany came to a standstill after almost missing a gate and failed to qualify for the second run.
The men’s World Cup circuit continues Tuesday with the annual night slalom in Schladming, Austria.