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Austrians 1-2-3 after opening slalom run

ALTA BADIA, Italy - ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) — Austrian skiers held the top three spots after the opening run of a World Cup slalom on the Gran Risa course Monday.

Slalom world champion Manfred Pranger led in 53.35 seconds, and Reinfried Herbst was second, 0.22 seconds behind. Olympic champion Benjamin Raich was third, 0.27 back.

Herbst won the opening slalom of the season in Levi, Finland, last month.

Raich can add some significant points to his overall World Cup lead because Swiss rival Carlo Janka straddled the second gate on course.

With his son Ivica out following knee surgery, Croatian coach Ante Kostelic set a tricky course with a quick series of gates on a roll midway down, causing trouble for several of the favorites.

Among those who didn't make it down were 2007 slalom world champion Mario Matt, German standout Felix Neureuther and the promising Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher.

Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety also struggled with the setting and failed to qualify for the second leg in 39th, while American teammate Bode Miller sat out to rest his sore ankle.

While the setting was tough, the 9 degree Fahrenheit air helped preserve the course for later skiers.

Jens Byggmark of Sweden finished 19th and Anthony Olbert of France squeezed into the top 30 in 29th.


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