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Ted Ligety falters in giant slalom

2/18/2012

BANSKO, Bulgaria -- Marchel Hirscher took advantage of a mistake by rival Ted Ligety to win a World Cup giant slalom Saturday and overtake the American for first place in the discipline standings.

Ligety led after the first run but dropped out of contention in the second run with a mistake in the upper part of the slope and placed last of the 27 finishers.

Hirscher, who began the second run trailing Ligety by 0.16 seconds, clinched the victory with a combined time of 2 minutes, 25.35 seconds.

Hirscher called his performance "one of my very best giant slalom runs."

"I have reasons to believe that I could win the World Cup, but I take it one race at a time," Hirscher said, adding that he prefers to "play it safe."

Italy's Massimiliano Blardone came in second with a combined time of 2:26.74, ahead of Austria's Marcel Mathis, 0.86 off the lead.

The 20-year-old Mathis put in a sensational performance on his second run to advance from 26th to third place and earn his first World Cup podium place.

Hirscher, 22, is Austria's main hope to challenge this year's overall World Cup title. This was his seventh win this season and the third in GS to give him the lead in the discipline standings.

The victory earned Hirscher 100 World Cup points and moved him to within 118 points of overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic, who has 1,043 and within 48 points of second-placed Beat Feuz of Switzerland.

Kostelic is out for at least three weeks due to a knee injury.

Bode Miller skied out and did not qualify for the second run. He said that he will not start in the slalom scheduled for the venue on Sunday.