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Alpine skiing: Ligety wins World Cup giant slalom

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American Ted Ligety cruised to victory in the men's giant slalom Sunday, becoming the first man in 22 years to win four consecutive giant slaloms.

Ligety won in a combined time of two minutes, 35.77 seconds to beat fellow American Bode Miller (2:37.09) and Austria's Marcel Hirscher who finished third in 2:37.59.

Ligety set a blistering pace in the first run that left him more than a second ahead of the field.

He equalled Alberto Tomba's mark of four straight wins which the Italian set in 1991.

"It was nice to have that cushion," he said of his brilliant first run. "I didn't have to push too hard in the second run so I am psyched."

Ligety has captured seven of the last nine giant slaloms and has been on the podium in all nine of those races.

He said the secret to his success is his ability to generate more speed throughout the tough sections of the course.

"In simple terms I am accelerating more out of the turns than anyone else."

Wind and snow delayed Sunday's start 30 minutes as organizers had to remove snow which fell overnight on the course.

The 36-year-old Miller upset the pre-race favourites by reaching the podium, giving the Americans a rare one-two finish.

Ligety, Hirscher and France's Alexis Pinturault had dominated the giant slalom podiums of late with the three reaching the podium in the last three giant slalom races.

"It is cool to finally have another American pushing me," said Ligety.

With the Sochi Olympics just nine weeks away Miller is hoping this is a sign that he is returning to form.

This is Miller's first podium finish in giant slalom since 2007. He has not won at Beaver Creek since 2005.

"My confidence had never been my issue but now I also have the fitness to back it up," Miller said.

"I can go full speed right from the start and don't have to worry.

"I am not going to hold back. I just haven't had it where I needed it to be."

France's Mathieu Faivre finished fourth while Pinturault dropped to fifth.

World Cup overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal finished 11th with a combined time of 2:39.03.

Svindal leads the standings with 360 points, 91 points ahead of Ligety. Hirscher is third with 235 points.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131208/alpine-skiing-ligety-wins-world-cup-giant-slalom