Ted Ligety holds big lead in giant slalom

NESHA STARCEVIC AP Sports Writer Published:

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) -- Ted Ligety of the United States held a huge lead after the first run of a World Cup giant slalom Sunday, the last men's race before the Sochi Olympics.

Ligety, a two-time world champion in the event, was 1.28 seconds faster than Alexis Pinturault of France in second place and appeared to be heading for his third win of the season. Ligety started fourth and early starters seemed to have an advantage in steady snowfall and poor visibility.

World Cup giant slalom leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third, 1.43 seconds behind, and said the race "was all but over." Hirscher also has two giant slalom wins this season and is seeking to recapture the title in the event. He was the 2012 champion.

Fritz Dopfer of Germany was fourth, 1.87 back, and Matts Olsson of Sweden and Philipp Schoerghofer of Austria shared fifth place, 1.91 behind. Everybody else was more than two seconds behind going into the second run.

Bode Miller of the United States hit a rut and crashed out about halfway into the run.

Miller won the giant slalom title at the 2003 World Championships, the last time men raced in St. Moritz.

The 36-year-old American said he was ready for his fifth Olympics, despite Sunday's mishap.

"My skiing is generally pretty solid now. We've had a lot of races this season like this and that's a bummer when you are skiing well," Miller said. "There were already big holes in some places when I went down and you can't see where they are and the coaches can't tell you where they are. The guys making it down were skiing very conservatively, trying not to crash and not to make mistakes. Ted is the only one really who skied normally.

"I didn't want to be 2.5 seconds behind and so tried to ski normally. But I had big problems from the start," Miller said.