GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) – While overall leader Bode Miller failed to finish, Reinfried Herbst put together the two fastest times to win a World Cup slalom Saturday.

Herbst, capping his comeback from a serious knee injury, had a combined time of 1 minute, 42 seconds. The Austrian defeated Manfred Moelgg of Italy by 0.65 seconds on a sun-drenched Gudiberg course, and Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was third.

“What happened today is exactly what I had in mind at the start of the season,” Herbst said. “The feeling is simply great.”

Miller straddled a gate halfway down the slope and did not finish the first run. Miller was not alone, as 13 other skiers did not finish on the tough slope.

His closest overall challenger, Benjamin Raich of Austria, finished 11th.

Miller has 1,067 points, followed by Raich with 969. Miller has collected World Cup points in only three of eight slaloms this season.

Ted Ligety of the United States was seventh. Teammates Jimmy Cochran and Tim Kelley also didn’t make it down the hill.

“We were too inconsistent for my liking,” U.S. coach Phil McNichol said. “It was a tough, challenging course, for sure, and it punished skiers all day. But that’s no reason we didn’t do better.”

Although Herbst led by nearly half a second after the first run, he did not hold back in the second heat and attacked the course en route to his second World Cup victory.

Ligety made up some time in the second run.

“First run was going really good, then I made a big mistake coming off the flats and that slowed me down a bit,” Ligety said. “I would have liked to have been in a better position going into the second run, but even little mistakes can be big ones in slalom.

“I think I was third overall on the second run, so I did make up quite a bit of time, but it just wasn’t enough. The snow was super good and Herbst just skied incredibly. It was really tough to catch him for sure.”

Many top-ranked skiers didn’t perform up to expectations.

World Cup slalom leader Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, winner of three straight slaloms earlier in the season, was 25th.

Felix Neureuther, racing on his home slope but recovering from a cold, shared fourth place with Kostelic after the first run. But he had numerous mistakes in the second run and finished 17th.

Grange remains the slalom leader with 462 points, while Matt is 91 points behind.

Herbst broke through at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin with a silver medal in the slalom, and captured his first World Cup slalom the next month in Japan.

But during a charity soccer match that summer, he injured his left knee and sat out six months.

“I am a fighter, I never gave up,” said Herbst, who’s had a combined six knee operations in his career. “I was a little bit nervous before the second run, but not too much. I liked the slope and the way the course was set, and I could use it to my advantage.”

After the race, Herbst kept a promise to fans and took them to a beer hall in nearby Munich.

AP-ES-02-09-08 1953EST

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