Gini wins World Cup slalom; Miller 26th |

Gini wins World Cup slalom; Miller 26th

Eric Willemsen
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
AP Photo/Giovanni AulettaSwitzerland's Marc Gini celebrates in the finish area after winning an men's World Cup slalom, in Reiteralm, Austria, Sunday.

REITERALM, Austria ” With heavy snowfall hampering visibility, Marc Gini of Switzerland won a slalom Sunday for his first World Cup victory.

“This is fantastic, an unbelievable result,” said Gini, who was followed by Kalle Palander of Finland and Manfred Moelgg of Italy.

Bode Miller was 26th. He hit his chin on a gate but was not seriously injured in the first run, came to a near standstill and almost missed a gate in his final run. The top American was Jimmy Cochran, who was 14th after coming in fifth in the first run.

Gini led after the first run and had a combined time of 1 minute, 53.49 seconds on the Gasselhoehe course. Palander was 0.28 seconds behind and Moelgg was third in 1:53.99.

Slalom world champion Mario Matt was fifth, and defending World Cup champion Benjamin Raich dropped to seventh after a disappointing final run. World Cup overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal finished 13th.

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The race originally was scheduled for Levi, Finland, but was moved because of poor snow conditions.

Gini had finished in the top 10 four times before, but never in the top three.

“I never thought I could really win here,” he said. “It’s kind of funny to beat Kalle as he always used to be my favorite skier.”

“I tried to stay calm and focused in between both runs,” he added. “The last thing I wanted to do was put pressure on myself.”

Palander moved to first in the overall World Cup standings. He was third in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden.

“This truly is a great start to the season,” he said. “It’s the first time in seven years that I am skiing without pain in my knees.”

Palander thrived on the rough conditions.

“I don’t prefer such a flat slope, but I loved the difficult circumstances,” Palander said.

Moelgg said his great start in the second run accounted for his strong finish.

“I hope to stay among the best this season,” Moelgg said. “I couldn’t ask for a better start anyway.”

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