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KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) – Felix Neureuther of Germany earned his first career World Cup victory on Sunday, winning a slalom that Bode Miller skipped to rest a sore ankle.
The 25-year-old Neureuther finished in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 37.35 seconds on the icy Ganslern course. Julien Lizeroux of France, last year’s winner of the Kitzbuehel slalom, was 0.39 seconds behind and Giuliano Razzoli in Italy was third, 0.99 off the pace.
Miller didn’t race because his right ankle hurt too much after prerace warmups. The U.S. ski team said he was expected to start at a night slalom in nearby Schladming on Tuesday.
“Bode wanted to ski fast in Wengen, in Kitzbuehel and at the Olympics,” U.S. team spokesman Doug Haney said. “So now he is obviously building up towards Vancouver.”
Miller hurt the same ankle in December during a game of volleyball with teammates at Val d’Isere, France.
Neureuther’s victory was the first World Cup win by a German man since Alois Vogl took a slalom five years ago in Wengen, Switzerland.
“I have been fighting for this for such a long time. I desperately wanted my first win,” Neureuther said. “It has not been an easy season for me, I was down mentally but kept fighting. I got a new pair of skies and they are really great.”
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia placed seventh to win the classic combined title after Saturday’s downhill.
Ted Ligety was the top American in 23rd and Nolan Kasper was 27th.
Austria’s Reinfried Herbst, who led after the opening run, came to a standstill after almost missing a gate and finished 7.83 back.
“It feels the same like last year,” said Herbst, who also squandered a commanding lead in the 2009 Kitzbuehel slalom in his second run. “It’s bitter, but I am happy that the next slalom in Schladming is only two days away.”
Herbst needed treatment for a sore back before the race, but said his physical problems did not affect his second run.
“No, I felt OK before the start,” Herbst said. “I don’t know what exactly went wrong.”
Slalom world champion Manfred Pranger was one of the few rivals who could keep up with Herbst’s pace in the opening leg, but he straddled a gate halfway down his second run.