ALTA BADIA, Italy All it took for Ted Ligety to get to the podium was leaving the mind games behind and making it to the finish.
The Olympic combined champion completed his first slalom of the season Monday and came in third. Ligety failed to finish his opening run in the season's first two World Cup slaloms, then skied out in a lower-tier race last week.
"After the first couple of races not finishing it definitely gets in your head a bit," the American said. "I was really trying to push the limits and it wasn't working, so today I tried to just make it to the finish line first run. Second run I let it go a little more."
He finished behind winner Jean-Baptiste Grange, a Frenchman who won for the first time on the World Cup circuit, and runner-up Felix Neureuther of Germany. Olympic slalom champion Benjamin Raich and Bode Miller both skied off course in the opening leg.
Grange was fastest in both legs on the Gran Risa course and had a combined time of 1 minute, 36.12 seconds to move to first in the slalom standings. Neureuther, who moved up from fifth after the opening run, was 0.74 seconds behind. Ligety, who jumped from 12th position, was 1.40 back.
The turning point in Ligety's career came at the 2006 Turin Games, when he won a gold medal before he had even won a World Cup race.