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Two giant leaps for Nef and Von Grünigen

The Swiss giant slalom specialist, Michael Von Grünigen, raced to the 19th title of his career

(Keystone)

Swiss ski fans had double cause for celebration on Saturday as Sonja Nef and Michael von Grünigen both enjoyed wins in World Cup giant slalom races.

The two results kept both skiers well on course for this season's giant slalom titles. In the women's discipline, Nef is now 188 points ahead of her nearest rival, Anja Paerson. In the men's event, von Grünigen has a 128-point lead over Austrian superstar Hermann Maier.

Nef's latest triumph in the Slovenian resort of Maribor was her fourth of the season and her third giant slalom win in a row.

There had been hopes of a Swiss one-two in Maribor following the first run which saw Nef finish second behind fellow Swiss skier Corinne Rey-Bellet. But the second run saw Rey-Bellet slip down to fourth position.

Nef had to overcome some demanding conditions in the Slovenian resort to edge out Italy's Karen Putzer and Austria's Renate Götschl. But the Swiss number one seemed oblivious to the state of the piste which race stewards had had to maintain with artificial snow and solidifying material.

While Nef made two virtually flawless runs, her nearest rivals to the giant slalom title were left floundering. Austria's reigning giant slalom World Cup champion Michaela Dorfmeister slipped down to third place in the rankings after crashing out during the first run.

Poor conditions also blighted the men's race in the French resort of Les Arcs, but Von Grünigen managed to shine through the rain and mist.

The Swiss giant slalom specialist raced to the 19th title of his career at a breathtaking pace, with only three of his rivals finishing within a second of his combined time.

Austria's Benjamin Raich finished in second place, more than half a second behind Von Grünigen. Hermann Maier took third spot.

Von Grünigen will now be looking to stretch his lead further with the help of a little home advantage. On Tuesday the World Cup tour arrives in the Swiss resort of Adelboden for the seventh giant slalom race of the season.

swissinfo with agencies


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