Skiing: Alphand puts on style to win super-G

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Luc Alphand, a downhill specialist, won the first super-G race of his World Cup career yesterday in Laxx, Switzerland.

The Frenchman threw down the gauntlet for next week's World Championships with a winning time of 1min 25.23 sec, 0.12sec faster than the runner- up, Josef Strobl of Austria, who should have secured one of the four Austrian places on the World Championship super-G squad with his result.

The race was the last men's speed event before the World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, where the men's super-G will open on Monday.

Alphand, who suffered a bad crash in Laax the last time the resort hosted a super-giant slalom, won the downhill World Cup last season but had never finished better than second in the super-G before yesterday.

"It's great, my first super-G win," said the 31-year-old Alphand, a winner in Kitzbuhel last weekend. "I've been so consistent with the downhill but not so much in the super-G. The trick is to take it one race at a time and stay sober and serene.''