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Park City's Ted Ligety takes slalom title

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 18 2011 10:07 p.m. MDT

Ted Ligety holds up the Overall Giant Slalom World Cup he won Friday at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski Men's Giant Slalom. on March 18, 2011 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

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LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — Park City's Ted Ligety clinched the World Cup giant slalom title on Friday after the race was canceled because of poor weather, adding to the world championships gold medal he earned last month.

Ligety won his third World Cup crystal globe trophy in four years, beating Phil Mahre's U.S. men's record of two giant slalom titles in 1982 and '83. Ligety led the standings all season, and finished 77 points ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway after six races.

"Having accomplished both of these things is pretty awesome," Ligety told The Associated Press. "I definitely wanted to get the medal. And you're always wanting to go for the season's title because it's a better indicator of your skiing."

His eight career giant slalom race wins in the World Cup trails teammate Bode Miller, the 2004 discipline champion, who has nine.

Ligety opened the season with a three-win streak at Beaver Creek, Colo.; Val d'Isere, France; and Alta Badia, Italy. He was also third, trailing by just 0.12 seconds, at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

"Winning titles is a big deal. These are the things you are remembered by and a measure of your consistency," Ligety said.

Ligety dominated in many races with a clean, aggressive style of skiing. In Alta Badia, he knocked Olympic champion Carlo Janka out of the lead with a run that had the Swiss racer visibly astonished at the American's time.

"I was definitely happy with the way I won it this year," Ligety said. "Last year, I didn't feel like I skied all that amazingly. This time, I skied the way I wanted to."

Race officials called off the giant slalom at 7 a.m. local time after struggling with persistent rain and warm temperatures. Ligety was sleeping when he received news of his title from U.S. men's ski team head coach Sasha Rearick.

"I woke up to a text from Sasha — then rolled over and went back to sleep. The coaches then asked me to come down for a little champagne," he said.

World Cup organizers allowed the women's slalom to go on Friday. The races on Friday and Saturday will help decide the overall World Cup title winner.

WOMEN'S DOWNHILL: Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch predicted their five-month fight for the World Cup overall title would come down to the last race.

It has.

The forecast Saturday is for sunshine and high drama, with the two-way race for the giant crystal globe trophy to be decided by two giant slalom runs down a steep Swiss hillside.

Vonn is looking to extend her era of domination, trailing by just three points in her bid for a fourth straight title. Riesch, a distant runner-up the past two years, is chasing an elusive first overall crown.

Riesch did just enough to take the lead Friday, finishing fourth while Vonn was 13th in a tense slalom won by Tina Maze of Slovenia.

Yet the German's three-point edge on her American friend can be lost in hundredths of a second, with a race victory worth 100 points.

"I know I have a chance to be in there. I'll fight and see what happens," said Vonn, who led by 27 points following Wednesday's downhill.

It's a perfect scenario for Alpine skiing — two 26-year-old marketable racers, who are best friends and biggest rivals, slugging it out to the end.

"I think my chances are 50-50," Riesch said. "But I won't spend any time thinking about the mathematics. I just want to ski well."

Adding to the tension, giant slalom is the weakest discipline for both women. Neither has a World Cup giant slalom victory, and each has just one top-3 finish this season.

Their unpredictable GS form and quirks of World Cup scoring mean Riesch and Vonn could finish dead even after amassing more than 1,750 points in 34 races.

If Vonn finishes eighth or ninth, and Riesch is one place behind her, they will be tied. Vonn would then win based on a tiebreaker of most race victories this season, where she leads 8-6.

SNOWBOARDING: At Valmalenco, Italy, Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States won a World Cup snowboard cross race on Friday.

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