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Pinturault wins World Cup super-combined in Wengen

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Associated Press
1/18/2013 9:34:12 AM
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WENGEN, Switzerland -- Alexis Pinturault of France used his superior slalom skills to win a World Cup super-combined on Friday, after being 22nd fastest in the downhill portion.

Pinturault was more than one second faster than any rival in the slalom to win by 1.15 seconds from Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who was 21st in the morning run.

Carlo Janka of Switzerland was third, 1.49 behind Pinturault's combined two-run time of 2 minutes, 41.62 seconds.

"I feel really good about the win. I tried not to lose too much time (in downhill) and then just go for it," Pinturault said. He got his second win of the season after victory in his home slalom last month at Val d'Isere.

Aksel Lund of Svindal of Norway placed 14th to score 18 World Cup points and close the gap on overall leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who typically skips speed events. Defending champion Hirscher has 855 points, 108 clear of Svindal.

Ted Ligety of the United States had a hard luck story in failing to score, and remains 179 behind Hirscher in third.

Ligety seemed set for a podium finish until his right ski slipped free two-thirds down his slalom run.

"It was his inside ski as he was going by the gate on the top of a roll, so it was really tough to tell," U.S. coach Sasha Rearick said. "He was losing time, but he would have been in second."

A similar fate befell Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who was third after the downhill. He also lost a slalom ski without ever losing balance after a gate sprang back on him.

Pinturault won despite not using downhill skis this season until Tuesday's first training session. He missed his off-season speed program after undergoing surgery on his left ankle in August to repair ligaments damaged while playing tennis.

"He is on the way up and we will see a lot of him," Kostelic said. "It's good that Marcel is getting a tough opponent for the future."

Kostelic was seeking his third straight win in the Wengen super-combined, and got his 11th podium finish at the historic venue.

First-run leader Christof Innerhofer of Italy placed fifth, raising loud cheers from the home fans as Janka secured his first podium finish since March 2011.

Janka, the 2010 overall champion, has found form elusive and struggled this season with changes to ski regulations in giant slalom, in which he is Olympic champion.

"Definitely there is relief and I'm really happy about it," Janka said. "I was probably lucky to be only two-hundredths in front of (fourth-place) Benni Raich."

A Wengen speed record was being claimed for Janka, who was clocked at 158.77 kph (98.66 mph) in the Hanneggschuss section that is the fastest on the World Cup circuit.

Racers competed under clear blue skies, though the forecast is unsettled for the 83rd year of the Lauberhorn downhill race scheduled on Saturday.

Hirscher is scheduled to return in Sunday's slalom.

Alexis Pinturault (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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