Janka returns from surgery to win GS

Sat, 05 Mar 16:07:00 2011

Switzerland's Carlo Janka won the Alpine ski World Cup giant slalom race in Kranjska Gora just ten days after undergoing heart surgery.

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Olympic champion Janka, who revealed at last month's world championships that a viral infection had caused problems with his heart rate, pipped French teenager Alexis Pinturault by 0.02 seconds.

American world champion Ted Ligety, the winner in Kranjska Gora for the last three years, was third, 0.12 behind Janka.

The American still leads the discipline standings with one race to go, ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal who finished only 22nd after struggling on the treacherous course.

Janka, 24, had originally been due to undergo surgery at the end of the season but the operation was brought forward to February 23 after medical checks showed a sudden change in his heart rate, the Swiss ski federation said last month.

"It is really a beautiful way to return," Janka said after his first win of the season. "The surgery had been scheduled at the end of the season so it was not easy for me; it was not easy to live with that. This victory is special, especially because it was unexpected."

The 19-year-old Pinturault was 16th after the first leg but produced a superb second run to reach the first World Cup podium of his career.

Winner Kranjska Gora : Car

"To finish 0.02 off Janka, and sandwiched between him and Ligety...it's really something," the junior world champion said.

Ligety now has 383 points at the top of the giant slalom standings, with Svindal on 306 and France's Cyprien Richard, who was fourth in Saturday's race, on 303.

"It was an important race for me after my (gold) medal at the World Championships last month, but I did not have a good feeling on that course. Now, anything can happen in the last race," Ligety said.

Austria's Philipp Schoerghofer, who led after the opening run, did not finish the race after he missed a gate near the top of the second leg.

Overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was 18th.

Kranjska Gora also hosts a slalom on Sunday.

Reuters

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