Italy's Simoncelli Wins WC Giant Slalom

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ALTA BADIA, Italy, Dec. 21, 2003 (AP by Andrew Dampf) -- Davide Simoncelli captured his first World Cup victory Sunday, winning a giant slalom in which Bode Miller finished third.

Simoncelli won by 1.03 seconds and became the first Italian to win a giant slalom on the Gran Risa course since Alberto Tomba in 1994. He had a two-run time of 2 minutes, 33.90 seconds.

"Simoncelli today skied as well as I've ever seen anyone ski GS that second run," Miller said. "He was fluid the whole way, took huge risks and was really aggressive, and it looks effortless when that happens."

Finland's Kalle Palander was second and Miller finished 1.21 seconds behind. Other American finishers were Dane Spencer in 11th place and Daron Rahlves in 28th.

Miller won the season's first two giant slaloms, then failed to finish four of five races. He even took the unusual step of acting as a forerunner _ a skier who tests the course _ for a women's slalom.

"I didn't feel like I was ever off track," Miller said. "My skiing was pretty decent the whole time."

Hermann Maier of Austria held his overall World Cup lead despite finishing 26th. Miller is eighth in the standings.

Simoncelli had twice come close to winning on the steep and twisting course _ runner-up to Palander last week and to Miller in 2002. The Italian said the Gran Risa course suits his style.

"Right away, it's very steep," he said. "And then it's flat on the lower section, so I'm able to find my rhythm right away."

Simoncelli's best result away from Alta Badia was 15th in Park City, Utah, last season.

"I don't think that will be for long," Miller said.

Tomba, a commentator on Italian TV, captured the last of his four titles at Gran Risa in 1994. He congratulated Simoncelli, who was the last skier on the course after also leading the first run.

"He told me to win more races," Simoncelli said. "But that will be difficult because I'm not Tomba."

The men's circuit resumes with a downhill in Bormio next weekend.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press