On a treacherous and icy course that proved too difficult for many, Ted Ligety delivered his best result in a speed event.
Ligety, the Olympic combined champion, finished second behind Austria's Michael Walchhofer in a World Cup super-G Saturday in the French Alps. He matched his season's best result, second place in a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
Ligety, of Park City, Utah, was 0.28 seconds behind Walchhofer. Italy's Werner Heel came in third, 0.75 seconds back, in poor visibility.
"It was just a struggle today," Ligety said. "Nobody was going to feel good, so I was able to use my GS skills and have a decent enough run."
Bode Miller, the 2005 super-G world champion, shared ninth place with Didier Cuche of Switzerland. The six other American skiers who entered the race did not finish.
World Cup overall leader Carlo Janka of Switzerland, who fell in Friday's super combined, skied out after a few gates on the demanding Face de Bellevarde slope.
Ligety, who avoided surgery after injuring his knee at the U.S. championships in March, almost went out on the upper part of the course but regained his balance.
"He's a phenomenal technical skier," U.S. coach Sasha Rearick said. "And he brought it out today in a very tough race, one of the toughest races I've ever seen."
Ligety wore a big smile in the finish area as he watched one skier after another fail to complete the race until Walchhofer bettered his time. Thirty-two racers didn't finish.
"It was not a typical super-G; it was more like a GS with longer skis," Ligety said. "It never felt good the entire way down the course, but to be in second place now is pretty good."
Ligety said it's important to do well in the speed events if he wants to contend for the overall crown. He is fifth in the overall standings.
"It's not a super surprise, even if I don't expect to be on a super-G podium very often," said Ligety, who will try to defend his Olympic title in Vancouver. "Hopefully I will be able to keep skiing at this level and even get better."
Ligety has four World Cup victories in giant slaloms. On Sunday, he'll ski in that event, having won the title in the discipline in 2008.
Rearick said Miller, fifth in a super combined a day earlier, skied well considering he hasn't taken many runs in this event.
"For him to come down and be in the top 10 is a good day, solid skiing," the coach said. "But he's got more speed than that, and we'll look forward to getting that speed out of him here."
Walchhofer captured a super-G for only the second time. He won in 1 minute, 20.78 seconds, mastering one of the most difficult courses in difficult conditions for his 15th career victory.
"Today you had to ski with guts," Walchhofer said. "With the bad weather, it was impossible to make a perfect run and I made my mistakes, but I kept pushing hard."
Walchhofer gave Austria its second win in two days following Benjamin Raich's victory in a super combined. Raich finished fifth Saturday and gained on Janka in the overall standings.
Janka, who won three consecutive races last week at Beaver Creek, Colo., leads with 460 points, 34 more than Raich. Cuche is third at 384. Walchhofer now tops the super-G standings with 160 points.
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