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Alta Badia: Blardone-Simoncelli go 1-2; Daron Rahlves fourth

Alta Badia: Blardone-Simoncelli go 1-2; Daron Rahlves fourthALTA BADIA, Italy – Max Blardone won a World Cup giant slalom race Sunday, finishing ahead of fellow Italian Davide Simoncelli.

Blardone recorded the second World Cup victory of his career in a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 27.14 seconds over the steep and twisty Gran Risa course.

Simoncelli, who led after the first run, finished 0.20 seconds back. Francois Bourque of Canada had the fastest second run to finish third – 0.28 behind – and match the best result of his career.

Retired Italian skiing great Alberto Tomba, who holds the record of four victories on the Gran Risa, said the result was a good one for Italy ahead of February’s Winter Olympics.

”This is another good sign for Turin,” Tomba said.

Italy’s Giorgio Rocca won his second slalom race of the season Monday, and Blardone said he hopes the low domestic interest in the Olympics will be boosted by the good results of his countrymen.

”We’re really putting our hearts into this and I hope this creates some attention,” Blardone said.

Bode Miller fell and did not finish his first run, but retained his lead in the overall and giant slalom standings. The American leads the overall with 442 points, 17 more than Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who finished 23rd. Austria’s Michael Walchhofer also fell in the opening run to drop from second to third overall, 22 points back.

Simoncelli was ahead of Blardone at the final split time before committing a small error.

”Max skied great, I don’t think I gave him the race,” Simoncelli said. ”He won the dinner we bet on up at the start.”

It was Simoncelli’s fourth podium finish on the Gran Risa, including a victory in 2003.

Blardone had never finished higher than fifth here. The first win of his career was in the giant slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland, last season.

”It’s great to win at home,” Blardone said. ”I gave everything I had. I risked a lot in the second run”

Daron Rahlves of the United States finished fourth, losing time with a slight error at the beginning of his second run.

Miller, who won here in 2002, made errors throughout his only run. He still had good split times but fell after going over a small bump three gates from the finish.

Miller tried desperately to regain his balance, but failed when one of his skis came loose.

”I knew I could get my feet around the gate, so I flipped my feet around, but then I couldn’t see the ground. The visibility wasn’t great, so when I landed I couldn’t see where I was and just snapped out,” Miller said.

It was the same spot where Miller went out in the second run a year ago, and he said he expected ”better tactics” from himself.

”It’s not a hard gate at all – you just can’t see it- so you have to know where you’re going,” Miller said. ”I thought I knew, but I wasn’t right.”

The Giat bump was added to the Gran Risa before last season’s race; it was not there when Miller won in 2002.

”Flat light on a hill like this makes it tough, for me anyway,” said Miller, referring to the overcast conditions during the first run. The sun came out for the second run.

Men’s giant slalom
Alta Badia, Italy
Dec. 18, 2005

1. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:27.14
2. Davide Simoncelli, ITA 2:27.34
3. Francois Bourque, CAN 2:27.42
4. Daron Rahlves, USA 2:27.65
5. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:27.96
6. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:28.02
7. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:28.06
8. Stephan Goergl, AUT 2:28.45
9. Didier Cuche, SUI 2:28.53
10. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:28.55
11. Raphael Burtin, FRA 2:28.84
12. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:28.94
13. Hannes Reichelt, AUT 2:29.07
14. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:29.09
15. Daniel Albrecht, SUI 2:29.23
16. Didier Defago, SUI 2:29.29
17. Patrick Bechter, AUT 2:29.35
18. Joel Chenal, FRA 2:29.41
19. Erik Schlopy, USA 2:29.42
20. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 2:29.46
21. Jean-Phippe Roy, CAN 2:29.47
22. Julien Cousineau, CAN 2:29.48
23. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:29.52
24. Arnold Rieder, ITA 2:29.62
25. Mario Matt, AUT 2:29.75
26. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 2:29.77
27. Christoph Gruber, AUT 2:30.05
28. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:30.23
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Erik Guay, John Kucera, Ryan Semple, CAN; Chip Knight, Dane Spencer, James Cochran, Tom Rothrock, USA.
DNF 1st: Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, USA

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s GS, Alta Badia, Dec. 18, 2005

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Blardone, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2. Simoncelli, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3. Bourque, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4. Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Goergl, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
9. Cuche, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer

Men’s giant slalom, Alta Badia, Italy, Dec. 18, 2005.… It is the 13th race of the men’s 34 race, 4 combined World Cup schedule. … It is the third of eight sheduled GS’s. … It is the 22nd World Cup GS held at Alta Badia.

It is the second career win for Massimiliano Blardone, the first coming at Adelboden, Jan. 11, 2005. … Thirty-seven of Blardone’s 38 scoring results have come in GS. … He has finished in the top 10 at Alta Badia in each of the last five seasons. … He is 26 from Pallanzeno.

It is the fourth career podium for Davide Simoncelli. … All of them from Alta Badia. … He won at the site Dec. 21, 2003, and was second Dec. 22, 2002, and Dec. 14, 2003. … Simoncelli has 25 World Cup scoring results, 24 of them in GS. … He is 26, from Rovereto. … The last one-two sweep for Italy was in women’s GS at Lillehammer March 16, 2003, when Karen Putzer led Denise Karbon.

It is the second career podium for Francois Bourque, the first Feb. 20, 2005, in SG at Garmisch. … It is the eighth score of the season for Bourque in three disciplines.

It is the fifth top-five result of the season for Daron Rahlves. … His second in GS. … It is his best result at Alta Badia. … It is the fourth scoring finish of the season for Thomas Grandi. … He won at Alta Badia last season. … Erik Schlopy recorded his second scoring result of the season. … Nineteenth is his best result at Alta Badia. … It is the 16th scoring result of Jean-Philippe Roy’s career. … He missed the second half of last season to a MCL injury sustained at World Championships. … He was fifth at Alta Badia last season. …It is the sixth career scoring result for Julien Cousineau. … His second in GS. … It is his first placing of the season.

Bode Miller (DNF 1st run) retains the lead in the World Cup overall standings 442-425 over Aksel Svindal (23rd in race). … Michael Walchhofer (did not race) is third at 420. … Daron Rahlves is fourth at 389. … Miller also hangs on to the GS standings lead 180-172 over Hermann Maier (sixth in race). … Blardone moves up to third at 160 and Bourque is fourth at 145. … Winning margin is two-tenths of a second. … Top seven are within same second. … Top 14 within two seconds.

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