Ligety wins giant slalom at U.S. Alpine Championships

Ligety wins giant slalom at U.S. Alpine Championships

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By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer

GIRDWOOD, Alaska (AP) -- Ted Ligety couldn't quite hang on to the slalom national title he held for two years, so he took over the giant slalom instead.

Ligety won the GS Tuesday at the U.S. Alpine Championships, ending the event with the fifth national title of his career.

Ligety won the slalom title in 2004 and last year, but finished second to Jimmy Cochran in that discipline Sunday. On Tuesday, Ligety led after the first GS run and basically just had to finish the second after several skiers who were within range of his time went off course, fell or just didn't show up.

"I would have been nice to be able to hold on to my slalom title, but it's no big deal," said Ligety, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the combined. "We've always had a pretty deep team on the GS side, so I'm pretty psyched to win."

Ligety led Bode Miller, whose nine national titles are tied for the most by a man in the U.S. championships, by .51 of a second after the first run, but Miller didn't ski the second run. And nobody was quite sure why the mercurial Miller skipped the afternoon race.

"It's too bad Bode didn't show up for the second run and give me a run for it, but it was a fun race," Ligety said. "I'm not really entirely sure what the whole reasoning was. But, you know, he does what he does."

Ligety led after the first run and finished with a combined time of 2 minutes, 22.34 seconds, more than two seconds better than Will Brandenburg, who finished at 2:24.66. He also clinched the combined by finishing second in the slalom Sunday at Alyeska Resort and has won the last two combined national titles.

Miller, the 2005 World Cup overall champion, was in second place after the first run but did not ski the second.

U.S. coach Phil McNichol said he had heard Miller didn't want to risk anything in the flat light of the cloudy afternoon, but he was still trying to track down his top skier and get the explanation firsthand.

"I would never tell somebody they had to race if they didn't feel the conditions were safe. I'm OK with that," McNichol said. "I'd just like to be included in the process."

Cody Marshall (2:24.78) finished third.

Brandenburg is a member of the national development team and will definitely move up before next season. He finished fifth in the super-G and No. 8 in the downhill and had the third-fastest opening run in the slalom before falling in the second.

"Ted still beat me by quite a bit, but it's all right. I'm happy with second," Brandenburg said. "My podium day was supposed to be slalom. Today was just hopefully getting on there. Slalom didn't work out and today did. That's ski racing."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-04-03-07 1914MDT

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