ADELBODEN, Switzerland, Jan 12 (Reuters) - A last gasp mistake by arch-rival Marcel Hirscher handed Ted Ligety his first victory in the classic giant slalom on Saturday.
The American clinched his 15th top spot in the discipline in a combined time of two minutes and 28.67 seconds.
It was the world champion's fourth win of the winter and he can thank World Cup holder Hirscher for it.
The Austrian, who had been on the podium of the last nine giant slaloms he entered, was leading Ligety by more than a second when he missed a gate close to the finish line and had to settle for 16th place.
Ligety beat Germans Fritz Dopfer, 1.15 seconds adrift, and in-form Felix Neureuther, who finished 0.09 behind his team mate.
With 15 giant slalom wins, Ligety became the third most successful skier in the discipline, level with Italy's Alberto Tomba and behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark and Swiss Michael von Gruenigen.
"Marcel should have won this but the same thing happened to me here a couple of years ago when I lost after a silly mistake close to the finish.
"It's a shame but that's skiing. I'm really proud of this for it was the only classic I had yet to win," he said.
Hirscher, who won both races last season in the Swiss resort, will be out for revenge in Sunday's slalom. (Reporting by Manuele Lang, editing by Pritha Sarkar)