FLACHAU, Austria Dec. 21, 2004 (AP by Harry Miltner)–Canadian Thomas Grandi won his second World Cup giant slalom in three days Tuesday, while American Bode Miller extended his lead in the overall standings with a third-place finish.
Grandi overtook first-round leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland with a superb second run, finishing in a combined two-leg time of 2 minutes, 15.90 seconds.
The 31-year-old Grandi had never won a World Cup race before Sunday in Alta Badia, Italy. His previous best was second in a slalom in Kitzbuehel last season and third in a giant slalom in Park City, Utah, in 1997-98.
“I cannot fully grasp yet what has happened,” Grandi said.
Cuche finished second, 0.15 behind Grandi and almost a second ahead of Miller, who had the second fastest time in the second run and moved up from seventh after the first leg. Miller stretched his World Cup lead over second-place Benjamin Raich to 352 points. Miller has 858 points after 14 races, Raich has 506 and third-place Hermann Maier has 479.
“Grandi and Cuche were absolute world class. They were invincible today,” Miller said. “No matter what we did, it seemed they always had a better reply. I guess not even a short cut would have helped to beat Tom today.”
Grandi was the only skier to complete his second run down the fast course named for Maier in under 1:08.
“I heard Bode had set a new best and was still ahead when I came,” he said. “But I kept my nerve and with the self-confidence I got at the moment, I risked a lot and could feel that I was fast.”
While the Austrians struggled with the icy conditions in front of their home fans, Grandi and Cuche skied in a league of their own.
“That was the icing on the cake, my Christmas and birthday presents in one,” said Grandi, who turns 32 on Monday.
Grandi, who took the lead in the giant slalom standings, won despite being distracted after his first World Cup win.
“After my win in Alta Badia things went crazy. Interviews, celebrations, receptions, great fun, but not too good for my form.”
Skiing in his home town and on a slope named for him, Maier finished 28th.
The ‘Herminator’ was 11th after the first run but crashed just after setting the best intermediate time on his second run. He got up finished 10 seconds behind Grandi.
“I had to ski at full risk. I was fast, but when I got a sudden hit, I crashed out,” Maier said. “I was born here and it was my duty to finish. And after all, those two or three points may make the difference at the end of the day.”
Raich, who gave Austria its last giant slalom victory back in January, finished fourth, 0.05 seconds behind Miller. He was the only Austrian in the top 15.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press