World Cup skiing

Thursday, February 8th 2007, 11:08 am
By: News On 6

ARE, Sweden (AP) _ Switzerland's Daniel Albrecht won the combined at the world championships Thursday, with Bode Miller finishing sixth after leading the downhill portion of the event.

Albrecht was seventh after the downhill but delivered a perfect slalom run for a combined time of 2 minutes, 28.99 seconds.

``It's going to take some time to believe it,'' Albrecht said.

Defending champion Benjamin Raich of Austria was second, 0.08 seconds behind, and Marc Berthod of Switzerland took third, 0.24 back.

Didier Defago finished fourth to give Switzerland three of the first four places. It was the first Swiss victory at the worlds since Michael von Gruenigen and Sonja Nef won the giant slaloms at St. Anton, Austria, six years ago.

At the last worlds in Bormio, Italy, no Swiss man or woman won a medal. The Swiss now have three medals after three races. Bruno Kernen won the super-G bronze.

Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was fifth. Miller was next, 0.98 seconds behind the leader.

Olympic champion Ted Ligety's slalom run was interrupted when course workers got in his way. The American was given another run but skied off course. Eight of the first 11 skiers on the course for the slalom leg fell. Another U.S. skier, Steven Nyman, was ninth.

Miller had more than a second lead on Albrecht before his slalom run. The American lost more than half his lead at the split point and couldn't ski anywhere near as fast as Albrecht on the bottom portion.

Miller, who left without speaking to reporters, failed to finish all three combined races on the World Cup circuit this season and has completed just one slalom race in the last 13 months _ when he finished last in Schladming, Austria, in the final race before the worlds.

At least he made it to the slalom portion this time, though.At the last worlds, Miller lost a ski 15 seconds into the downhill leg of the combined, continuing most of the way down the slope on one ski.

Like Patrick Staudacher, the Italian who won Tuesday's super-G, Albrecht had never finished among the top three on the World Cup circuit. His best results were two fourth-place finishes _ in the slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., in December and the combined in Wengen, Switzerland, two years ago.

``I can't believe it. It's going to take some time to believe it,'' Albrecht said. ``I never thought I could catch Miller and Svindal. I had a very good downhill. I was surprised how close I was to the top downhillers. I've been training a lot with Berthod and now we're both on the podium. It's great.''

He was the 2003 world junior champion in combined, though, and finished fourth in the discipline at the Turin Olympics last year. At the last worlds, he finished seventh in the combined.

The combined was run in the super-combi format for the first time at a major championship. It consisted of a downhill leg and a single slalom run, as opposed to a downhill leg and two slalom runs under the old format.

Raich was 14th after the downhill.

``The slalom was not very difficult but it was difficult to go fast and I was fast today,'' he said. ``I'm very surprised both Bode and Svindal didn't do better, because these guys are very hard to beat.''

Svindal said he put down a good slalom run, but that Albrecht was simply too fast.

``I just don't have the speed to be the best in slalom, and I showed that today,'' Svindal said. ``I didn't really make any big errors. I couldn't have given anymore.''