Skiing: Svindal begins World Cup defence in style

Aksel Lund Svindal started the defence of his World Cup overall and giant slalom titles with a victory yesterday at the season-opening race here on the Rettenbach glacier.

Svindal delivered the fastest final run to make up a 1.17 second deficit from the opening leg and won with a combined time of 2min, 17.87sec.

"I worked harder this summer than ever before. I spent more time on skis and more time in the gym than I ever did," Svindal said. "I pushed all that work into one race situation. This has given a massive confidence boost at the start of the season."

The Olympic combined champion, Ted Ligety, who was fastest in the opening leg, was the final skier out of the start hut in the second leg. Despite a strong performance, he finished second, 0.32 behind the Norwegian.

It was a first for Ligety to be leading after the opening leg of a World Cup race, meaning it was also the first time he was last out of the ski hut on the final run.

"To be the last guy in the start hut in the second run was new to me and I had to control my nerves," Ligety said. "Now I know what it's like. I'll take more risks next time."

Kalle Palander of Finland was third, 0.39sec behind, while Benjamin Raich was fourth in 2:18.53.

Italy's Denise Karbon won the opening race of the women's World Cup season on Saturday with a giant slalom victory. Karbon improved from second place after the first run to win with a combined time of 2:23.21sec. The Italian finished 0.33sec ahead of American overall title contender Julia Mancuso. Austria's Kathrin Zettel was third, a further 0.19sec back.

Great Britain's Chemmy Alcott did not post a combined time after failing to complete her second run. Alcott had been 11th after a first run of 1:10.67.

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