Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange Wins Slalom For First World Cup Victory

Monday, December 17th 2007, 8:33 am

By: News On 6

ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) _ Jean-Baptiste Grange won a slalom race Monday for his first World Cup victory, with American Ted Ligety finishing third.

The Frenchman was fastest in both legs on the Gran Risa course and had a combined time of 1 minute, 36.12 seconds as he moved to the top of the slalom standings. Felix Neureuther of Germany was second, 0.74 seconds behind, and Olympic combined champion Ligety was 1.40 seconds out.

Neureuther moved up from fifth after the opening run, while Ligety jumped from 12th position.

Olympic slalom champion Benjamin Raich and Bode Miller both skied off course in the opening leg.

Grange leads the slalom standings with 176 points. Marc Gini of Switzerland, who finished seventh, is second with 149 points, and Raich is third with 136.

Grange won the bronze medal in slalom at last season's World Championships in Are, Sweden. His previous best World Cup result was second in a super-combi in Beaver Creek, Colo., last month.

Grange said he was angry after failing to qualify for the second run of Sunday's giant slalom on the Gran Risa.

Andre Myhrer, Markus Larsson and Mario Matt _ 2-3-4 after the first run _ skied off course in the second leg. Manfred Pranger, who was seventh, and Jens Byggmark, who was ninth, also had trouble.

Grange's coach Jacques Theolier set the second run.

Neureuther matched his best career result, set in his hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen last winter.

Neureuther's mother Rosi Mittermaier was an Olympic champion and his father Christian was also a successful World Cup racer.

Ligety failed to complete his opening run in the first two World Cup slaloms of the season and a Europa Cup race last week. It was his third top three finish of the season after two top results in giant slalom, good enough to lead the GS standings.

Ligety placed fifth in Sunday's GS after being penalized for showing up a few minutes late to the public bib draw the night before the race. He was forced to start 46th and fined $867.

Raich was the first skier on course in the opening run and went out after 30 seconds.

``It's the first time I've gone out in a slalom since last year here,'' Raich said. ``Once a year is OK.''

Raich still holds a 521-453 lead over Didier Cuche in the overall standings.

Miller veered off course eight seconds in and didn't finish the opening run for the second day in a row after breaking his binding in the GS.

The American completed only two of eight slaloms last season and is now 1-for-3 this season, having placed 26th in Reiteralm, Austria, in the season opener.

Miller began his career as a slalom specialist, winning five World Cup races. Now he performs best in the speed disciplines _ downhill and super-G.

His last slalom victory came in Sestriere three years ago.

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