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Olympics: Ligety happy as Striedinger tops penultimate training

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American Ted Ligety and his main super-combined rivals Alexis Pinturault of France and Croat veteran Ivica Kostelic all had good workouts in their penultimate downhill training on Wednesday.

The Rosa Khutor course was shortened to 2.4km from its usual 3.5km, the finish area moved up the hill so as not to interfere with the women's downhill medal race on the adjoining slope.

But a second race down the demanding course was essential for four-time world champion Ligety and his all-round rivals, with a final training run to be held at 0615 GMT on Thursday.

"It was better," the 29-year-old said after clocking 1min 17.93sec, 15th fastest and 0.87sec off the leading time of Austrian Otmar Striedinger.

Ligety had finished well off the pace in his first training run on Tuesday ahead of Friday's super-combined, which comprises a morning downhill and afternoon slalom run.

"I was only eight-tenths out today. I'll do just a few runs to get the slalom feeling back, but not too long over there. I haven't trained slalom since I arrived."

Pinturault said he had been surprised by the speed racers were touching on a largely icy piste that was beginning to break up in the brilliant sunshine.

"Yesterday it was pretty fast. Today was even faster, faster than the downhill race," said Pinturault.

"The snow is softer. It was pleasant. The ground is excellent but it goes faster and you can easily be taken by surprise by the speed. We have to do things faster than yesterday. You have to get used to this kind of snow."

Pinturault, who will be counting on his aggressive slalom style on Friday, added: "The course was shortened. I did one jump only. I jumped very high, I have never jumped that far."

Kostelic, 34, also enjoyed his outing, saying: "It was softer and it was a little bit easier than yesterday. I have good feelings."

American veteran Bode Miller, the defending Olympic combined champion, topped training on Tuesday, but skipped Wednesday's session.

The 36-year-old, competing at his fifth Winter Games, is aiming to make up for not grabbing a downhill podium place with a good performance in the combined.

Alarmingly for organisers, after two more nights of freezing weather, the temperature is forecast to shoot up to a balmy 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday.

"Hopefully we'll get some clear nights and it gets cold at night so it stays frozen," said Ligety.

The snow "could really change a lot if it starts to rain or starts to get super warm and stays cloudy".

"Hopefully we'll get some cold nights and it stays hard and compact, otherwise it could get beat up pretty quickly."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140212/olympics-ligety-happy-striedinger-tops-penultimate-training