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Maier snatches giant slalom title from Von Grünigen

Maier celebrates after overhauling Von Grünigen's giant slalom lead

(Keystone)

A dramatic mistake in the closing stages of the last men's giant slalom race of the season saw Switzerland's Michael von Grünigen surrender victory in the discipline to Austria's Hermann Maier.

Von Grünigen came into Saturday's race in Are, Sweden 40 points ahead of Maier in the giant slalom standings and needed only to finish second to take the season's title.

After finishing the first of his two runs in second place behind Maier, the Swiss skier appeared to be on course for the main prize. But as Von Grünigen approached the finish line on his final run, disaster struck.

The 31-year-old Bernese Oberlander lost his balance with just six gates remaining and, although he did well to stay on his skis, the damage was done.

With Maier powering down the Olympia course with an almost flawless combined time of 2'31"23, Von Grünigen was relegated to fourth place - a result which saw him concede the overall title by just 10 points.

As Von Grünigen came to terms with his disappointment, his Austrian rival was able to celebrate yet another amazing season. Saturday's win was his 13th of the season, equalling a record set more than 20 years ago by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark.

The overall giant slalom title was Maier's fourth major achievement of the season. Last weekend in Norway he clinched his third men's overall crown in four years as well as the downhill title. On Friday he wrapped up the Super-G title.

swissinfo with agencies


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