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Grange wins Kitzbuehel slalom, Kostelic takes combined event

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-23

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange (pictured) bounced back from injury to win the men's World Cup slalom in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel on Sunday, finishing ahead of Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, who came first in the combined event.

AP - Jean-Baptiste Grange of France won a men’s World Cup slalom on Sunday, while Ivica Kostelic of Croatia placed second to take the combined event for his sixth title this month.

Grange overcame a major mistake and avoided falling with his left arm before posting the fastest second-run time and finish in an aggregate 1 minute, 40.93 seconds for his eighth career win and second of the season after Levi, Finland, in November.

“It’s an amazing win for me,” said Grange, who was expected to be out for several weeks after hurting his shoulder in December. However, the Frenchman returned to the circuit quickly and took third at the Wengen slalom last week.

“I had a fast recovery and to win one of the most difficult slaloms in the world today is just great,” Grange said.

He beat Kostelic, who led after the opening leg, by 0.28. It was the first time the Croat had failed to win a race after leading between runs.

“This weekend gave me wings. If you have finished the Streif (downhill), life is much easier,” said Kostelic, who won Friday’s super-G.

“For sure, it was the biggest weekend of my career although I thought it could not get bigger than Wengen,” said the Croat, who took the combined event and the slalom in the Swiss event.

Kostelic was 11th in Saturday’s downhill, which counted as a classic-combined event with the slalom, and racked up another 180 points Sunday to further extend his lead in the overall standings.

He now has 1,030 points to lead Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen, who took second in the combined, by 401 points. Third-place Aksel Lund Svindal is 445 behind. The Norwegian skied out in the slalom and therefore failed to score points in the combined event as well.

“You know, it’s a very difficult event for combined racers,” Kostelic said. “In previous years, I was always holding back a bit on the slalom as I was thinking about the combined. Today, I got that out of my head and just raced the slalom. That was important.”

Kostelic earned a total of ¤125,100 ($157,000) in prize money at the three-day Hahnenkamm races but said “it only matters to me that I scored a lot of points here.”

Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli was 0.69 back in third to equal his result from last year.

World Cup slalom champion Reinfried Herbst of Austria finished fifth.

“It’s a difficult course and it’s very icy today,” Herbst said. “Skiing for a home crowd makes you want to do something special.”

Herbst’s teammate Romed Baumann was the only Austrian to secure a podium place by taking third in the combined event.

Bode Miller of the United States skied out in the first run, wasting a good chance to win the combined event after finishing second in the downhill. His teammate Ted Ligety and Austria’s Benjamin Raich also went out.

Last year’s slalom winner Felix Neureuther of Germany came to a standstill after almost missing a gate and failed to qualify for the second run.

Nolan Kasper of the United States scored his first World Cup points of the season by finishing 12th for his best career result.

The men’s World Cup circuit continues with the annual night slalom in Schladming, Austria, on Tuesday.

Date created : 2011-01-23