BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – Giorgio Rocca of Italy skied a clean second run in icy and snowy conditions Sunday to win the World Cup season’s first slalom, and Ted Ligety of the United States finished a career-best third.

Rocca, who figures to be one of the host country’s top medal hopes in Alpine skiing at the Turin Olympics in February, completed two runs on the Birds of Prey course in an unofficial time of 1 minute, 51.72 seconds.

But his victory wasn’t secure until first-run leader Benjamin Raich of Austria, the slalom world champion, skied off course late in the second run. Raich was ahead of Rocca’s pace at the first time interval.

Stephane Tissot of France, 20th after the first opening, had the fastest second run and finished second in 1:52.58.

Ligety, a 21-year-old from Park City, Utah, was never better than eighth in a World Cup race before Sunday. He was 12th in the first run but third-fastest in the second and wound up with a combined time of 1:52.60.

That was good enough for a spot on the podium because five of the 11 skiers who followed him in the second run failed to finish.

Reigning overall World Cup champion Bode Miller didn’t qualify for the second run. He missed a gate about 20 seconds into his opening run, then hiked back up to where he went off-course and completed the run for practice.

AP-ES-12-04-05 1541EST


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