REITERALM, Austria (AP) – Olympic silver medalist Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won a super-combi Sunday for his first World Cup victory in three years while Bode Miller again crashed out of a race.

Kostelic capitalized on a nearly perfect slalom run to finish in 2 minutes, 8.09 seconds – 1.08 seconds ahead of Romed Baumann of Austria. Pierrick Bourgeat of France, was third, 1.51 seconds back.

Ted Ligety, the combined Olympic champion, jumped from 23rd to share fourth place despite a broken hand that is still not fully healed. U.S. teammate Steve Nyman was 15th.

“My slalom’s still a work in progress,” Ligety said. “But I’m happy. The super-G was bumpy, for sure.”

Kostelic, a technical specialist, finished seventh in the morning’s super-G and then sped down the slalom in 49.03 – 0.83 faster than his nearest rival – to win his first points of the season.

The race had been moved from Val d’Isere, France, because of poor snow conditions. The super-combi – a speed event and one-run slalom staged the same day – was introduced two seasons ago. The traditional combination adds the times of a downhill and two-leg slalom, run on different days.

This was Kostelic’s eighth World Cup title and his first top-three finish in a combined event. His sister, former ski star Janica Kostelic, was among the first to congratulate him. “I told Janica I thought I would never win again,” he said. “She said I was being stupid and told me not to think like that – and I did it.”

Miller was in front by 0.43 seconds at the first split time of the super-G after a typically aggressive start. But he clipped a gate with his hand in the midsection, causing him to lose his footing and crash.

The American, who won a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., this month, crashed out of the last super-combi after leading the downhill leg and also crashed in the last slalom race.

“He should not be criticized,” Kostelic said. “His style of skiing originates from his lifestyle. This is how he is. The man takes so much risks and I’m a big fan.”

Niklas Rainer of Sweden, who led after the opening run, finished seventh – his best career result.

Race stewards struggled to groom the course after a day of rain in the valleys and a light layer of fresh snow overnight on the mountain tops. The course was last used on the World Cup circuit in 1979.

“I wish conditions were like this more often. I like this kind of snow,” Kostelic said. “Skiers should be skiing on snow, not ice.”

Aksel Lund Svindal, who won the season-opening super-combi in Beaver Creek, was favored to win on the Gasselhoehe track. He was 19th after the super-G but finished sixth. Benjamin Raich, last season’s overall champion, wound up 10th.

AP-ES-12-10-06 1210EST


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