<
>

Miller finishes seventh, Ligety third in World Cup giant slalom

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria -- Massimiliano Blardone led
Italy's 1-2 finish in a giant slalom Saturday while Ted Ligety of
the United States finished third as the World Cup returned to
Europe after a series of races in North America.

Blardone was third after the opening leg but delivered a solid
second run to complete the Franz Klammer course in 2 minutes, 10.75
seconds for his fourth career victory in the event. Teammate
Manfred Moelgg was 0.09 seconds behind.

"It feels great to win here," Blardone said. "The first run
was not the best for me. I made several mistakes, but I was very
fast in the second run and made no mistakes."

Ligety, the Olympic combined champion, was third in 2:10.92 to
keep his overall lead in the discipline. Bode Miller was seventh in
the race and is seventh in the overall standings.

Ligety finished second at Soelden, Austria, and was fourth last
week at Beaver Creek, Colo.

"It's not that much fun being second, third and fourth," he
said. "To win would be nice, for sure."

Ligety, whose only World Cup victory came in a GS race in South
Korea last year, finished sixth in the first leg before climbing
three spots in the second. He is fifth in the overall standings.

"The set was not good for me -- it was super, super straight,''
Ligety said. "They took it straight down the hill.''

Blardone is third in the discipline standings. This was Moelgg's
first top-three finish in the event.

Mario Matt, a pre-race favorite, missed a gate and failed to
complete the opening run. So did fellow Austrians Mario Scheiber
and Reiner Schoenfelder, disappointing the home crowd in this
resort, which is hosting a World Cup men's event for the first time
since 1992.

The World Cup season looks wide open now that the defending
overall champion is out for months with injuries. Aksel Lund
Svindal was leading the overall standings when he crashed during
downhill training in Beaver Creek last week.

The new overall leader, Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland, finished
fifth Saturday. He's 12 points ahead of 2006 overall champion
Benjamin Raich of Austria. Raich was fourth Saturday, 0.03 seconds
behind Ligety.

World Cup racing resumes Sunday with a slalom.