Defending GS champ Ligety takes WCup season-opener

ERIC WILLEMSEN (Associated Press)

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) -- Ted Ligety maintained his dominance in giant slalom by taking the season-opening World Cup race by a 0.79-second winning margin Sunday, while Bode Miller finished 19th upon his return to the circuit following a 20-month injury layoff.

Ligety, who won six of eight races last season and defended his world title in GS, held on to his massive 0.90-second first-run lead to finish in an aggregate 1 minute, 59.50 seconds.

Alexis Pinturault of France came second, and overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria was 1.02 behind in third.

While winning his 18th career title - all in GS - Ligety became the first to win the season opener in three straight years, and he matched Austrian standout Hermann Maier's three victories on the Rettenbach glacier in 1998, 2000 and '05.

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