Raich wins his third straight World Cup GS | VailDaily.com

Raich wins his third straight World Cup GS

Benjamin Raich, of Austria, center, winner of an Alpine Ski, World Cup Men's Giant Slalom, celebrates on the podium with second placed Francois Bourque, of Canada, right, and third placed Massimiliano Blardone, of Italy, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Saturday, March 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Enrico Schiavi)

KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – Benjamin Raich might have timed his run perfectly.The defending World Cup overall champion was trailing Aksel Lund Svindal in the giant slalom and overall standings heading into this weekend’s races.But after winning Saturday’s giant slalom, Raich now leads the discipline standings and is only three points behind Svindal for the World Cup overall lead.With only two more stops to go on the calendar, Raich hopes to reclaim the overall lead in Sunday’s slalom.

“Everything is going well. I feel power and I feel strength,” Raich said. “It is all happening the way I hoped.”The Austrian slalom specialist, who also led after the first leg, finished the steep and deteriorating Podkoren track in a total time of 2 minutes, 19.03 seconds.”This course suits me very well,” he said. “It wasn’t easy as the course was very soft and bumpy sometimes, but am I am always very good here.”Raich had his first top-three finish at Kranjska Gora in 1999, and has won four giant slaloms here since.

It was Raich’s 25th World Cup title and his 11th in the giant slalom. He also won the last giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland.Francois Bourque of Canada was second, 0.55 back. Massimiliano Blardone of Italy took third, 0.57 behind.Svindal, a Norwegian, and Ted Ligety of the United States were tied for fourth, 0.62 behind the winner. Bode Miller finished 13th.Raich leads the giant slalom standings with 319 points – three ahead of Svindal and 19 more than Blardone.

Svindal has 868 points in the overall standings, three more than Raich and 80 more than Didier Cuche of Switzerland.”Some of my goals have been reached today, but I still have some more to do, so I have to hold my focus in the coming races,” Raich said.Raich has dominated in the slalom this season, and will be favored in Sunday’s race,.”I won my first ever podium in a slalom race here,” he said. “It would be a good time to finally win one now.”

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