Rocca Wins Slalom Again, Ligety Second

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January 8, 2006

ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP by Erica Bulman) —Giorgio Rocca of Italy remained unbeaten in the slalom this season, capturing a World Cup race Sunday in which Ted Ligety of the United States finished a career-best second despite a costly mistake on a treacherous and icy slope.

Slalom world champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, winner of the previous day's giant slalom, was third. Overall champion Bode Miller veered off course in the first run.

Rocca, winner of all four slaloms, completed the two runs on the Chuenisbaergli course in 1 minute, 39.14 seconds, with Ligety 0.60 seconds behind.

``It was a very tough slalom, and I was able to make the most of my early start number in the first run,'' said Rocca, the first skier to out of the hut that morning. ``Despite a small mistake in the second run, I managed to win.''

This was the third top-three finish for Ligety. The 21-year-old American was finished third in slaloms at Beaver Creek, Colo., and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

Midway down, he lost control and nearly missed a gate.

``It's a great day. I wish I didn't make that mistake,'' Ligety said. ``I was charging the whole way down. I was a bit surprised to have such a good time. With that kind of mistake I didn't expect that. But I need to get those (mistakes) out of my skiing and then maybe I can beat this guy Giorgio Rocca.''[pagebreak]

] Added Rocca: ``Ted was very courageous and efficient. ... My real enemy right now is Ted because he is a very strong opponent. Especially in view of the Olympics.''

Raich cushioned his lead in the overall standings. He has 606 points while Miller and U.S. teammate Daron Rahlves share second at 489. Austria's Michael Walchhofer is fourth at 470. Rocca tops the slalom standings with a maximum 400 points, with Ligety trailing by 160.

``It's nice to be leading the World Cup and you're always happy to be among those fighting for it,'' said Raich, who with his coach helped reanimate a man whose heart had stopped at a rest stop on the way to Adelboden on Thursday. ``It's a big goal but the finals are still two months away.''

Italy's Alberto Tomba holds the record for consecutive slalom wins with seven in a row in the 1994-95 season. Italian men have won 67 World Cup slaloms, passing Austria's record of 66.

Three World Cup slaloms remain before next month's Turin Olympics _ one in Wengen, Switzerland, and two in the Austrian resorts of Kitzbuehel and Schladming.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press