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Janka scripts perfect giant slalom race

CARLO Janka of Switzerland won the men's giant slalom at the World Championships in Val d'Isere, France, yesterday to add to his bronze medal in the downhill.

Janka timed 2 minutes, 18.82 seconds for the two runs down the Face de Bellevarde course. Benjamin Raich of Austria finished second, 0.71 behind, and Ted Ligety of the United States was third, 0.99 back.

It was an emotional victory for the 22-year-old Janka, who is the regular roommate of Daniel Albrecht and his closest friend on the Swiss team.

Albrecht woke on Thursday from a three-week induced coma at a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, after sustaining lung and brain injuries when he crashed heavily in downhill training at Kitzbuehel on January 22.

Albrecht won silver in GS at the last worlds and had been scheduled to defend his world title in the super-combined here.

The 22-year-old Janka, known as "Iceman" in Switzerland for his laid-back personality, was deeply affected by the accident. He raced at Kitzbuehel only after long talks with the Swiss team coaches.

Janka was widely favored for the GS after finishing his preparations at Veysonnaz, Switzerland, earlier this week. He relishes the technical Bellevarde slope, taking bronze in Saturday's downhill and winning a World Cup GS race here last December.

Olympic GS champion Raich also went home to train this week.

The 30-year-old Austrian was under pressure to deliver his country's first medal in the men's races at the fourth attempt.

Ligety leaped into the bronze medal position after being ninth fastest in the morning run. His run of 1:09.85 was fastest in the second leg.

It's a second major championship medal for the 24-year-old Ligety. He won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics in traditional combined.

Bode Miller's disappointing championships continued.

After being 17th in the first run, the 2003 world champion in GS skied out before halfway in the afternoon. He was the only one of the top 30 morning racers not to complete the second leg.

The 31-year-old American star is now winless in 26 World Cup events and four world championship races this season.

Earlier, doctors said Albrecht will suffer no permanent damage to his health from brain and lung injuries.

"We are very pleased about his condition," neurologist Bettina Pfausler at the Innsbruck University hospital said. Albrecht had full movement in his limbs and no memory loss, and was already able to sit upright and answer "yes" and "no" to simple questions, Pfausler said.

Meanwhile, about 20 skiers from the sport's underdog nations wore black armbands here to protest against the International Ski Federation.

The racers were unhappy at having to take part in a qualifying event for the men's giant slalom on the fringes of Val d'Isere to earn a place in the gold medal race. It's the second championships at which lower-ranked skiers have had to pre-qualify in a separate race run on a different piste from the main events.

"We want to give nations who can't compete at the highest level the chance to be part of the World Championships," FIS men's race referee Guenter Hujara said.


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