FLACHAU, Austria Dec. 22, 2004 (AP by Harry Miltner)--Italy's Giorgio Rocca won the men's World Cup slalom on Wednesday after American Bode Miller crashed and failed to qualify for the second run.
Rocca finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 34.86 seconds, beating Austria's Rainer Schoenfelder by 0.24 seconds. German Alois Vogl was third, 0.31 seconds behind for the first podium finish of his career.
Miller still leads the overall standings with 858 points after 15 events. Austria's Benjamin Raich, who finished sixth Wednesday, is sec
ond with 546 points, followed by Hermann Maier with 482.Miller was on pace for one of the fastest times in the opening run when he crashed.
It was the fourth career slalom victory for Rocca, who made his World Cup debut at Flachau eight years ago.
``The atmosphere was exciting and fighting it out with Rainer in front of such a crowd was incredible,'' Rocca said after his best result this season. ``To come out the winner is of course the best possible Christmas present.''
Schoenfelder, the defending World Cup slalom champion, disappointed the 15,000 home fans after taking the lead following the opening run.
``I'm content with the runner-up spot, although winning in front of our home fans would have been even better,'' he said.
To get acquainted with the icy conditions, Schoenfelder and his Austrian teammates squeezed in extra training sessions on the hill Monday.
Vogl was the biggest surprise of the day, posting the best result for a German man in the slalom since Peter Roth's win at Mount Hutt, New Zealand, in 1990.
``I don't really know what to say. I just skied down at full risk twice and it paid off,'' the 31-year-old said ``I finally showed everybody that I can do the trick twice. It's a great present to me right before Christmas and that on my favorite slope.''
Swiss skier Sylvain Zurbriggen, who won at Sestriere, Italy, last week, failed to cope with the icy conditions and didn't qualify for the second leg.
Canada's Thomas Grandi, who won two giant slaloms in a row earlier this week, finished 12th.
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