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Cuche powers to giant slalom win; first blood to Swiss in World Cup

Cuche salutes his victory in the season-opening giant slalom in Austria.
Cuche salutes his victory in the season-opening giant slalom in Austria.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Didier Cuche wins opening race of men's World Cup skiing season
  • Swiss star claims giant slalom in Austraia from Ted Ligety of U.S.
  • World giant slalom champion Carlo Janka of Switzerland finishes third
  • Austrian ace Benjamin Raich relegated to fifth place on home snow

(CNN) -- Didier Cuche gave Switzerland opening honors in the men's World Cup skiing season with victory in the giant slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in Austria.

The 35-year--old drew on all his experience to edge Ted Ligety of the United States with a combined time of two hours 21.45 seconds for the two runs on the treacherous piste.

Ligety, leading the U.S. challenge in the absence of Bode Miller, who skipped the race, recorded two minutes 22.05 seconds.

Cuche was adrift at the final checkpoint but used his gliding skills on the flatter closing section to edge ahead by the finish.

It was the 10th World Cup win for Cuche, who is the reigning Super-G world champion and also excels at downhill.

His Swiss teammate and world giant slalom champion Carlo Janka was third, edging Italy's Massimiliano Blardone for the final podium place by just 0.01seconds.

Olympic giant slalom champion Benjamin Raich was fifth for Austria in a race dominated by specialists. Cuche is the defending World Cup champion in the discipline.

Miller, the overall World Cup champion in 2005 and 2008, has rejoined the official United States team after racing as an independent last season.

He will make his season's debut when the World Cup resumes in Levi, Finland on November 14-15 with slalom events for men and women.

Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway failed to finish the second leg, still troubled by a leg injury.

Tanja Poutiainen of Finland won the women's season-opener in the giant slalom on Saturday at the Austrian ski resort of Soelden.