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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aamodt Returns With Impressive Win

HINTERSTODER, Austria -- World Cup leader Kjetil-Andre Aamodt has won his first race of the season in impressive style with outstanding runs in both legs of a giant slalom. Aamodt skied the long, icy Baerenalm piste, in a combined time over the two legs of two minutes 49.63 seconds.

The Norwegian, reigning slalom and giant slalom World Champion and Olympic super-giant slalom gold medalist, finished almost a second ahead of the competition Tuesday.

Austria's Christian Mayer, winner of a giant slalom in Val d'Isere in December, celebrated his 22nd birthday with a second place in a combined 2:50.47. His compatriot Richard Kr?ll was third in 2:50.86.

"It was about time to win a race," Aamodt said. "I was pretty mad in Kranjska Gora, but now I know I'm in good shape."

In Kranjska Gora at the weekend, Aamodt led after the first run of a giant slalom, but lost his advantage in the second leg following heavy rain.

Italy's Alberto Tomba, who crashed out of two races in Kranjska Gora, saw no improvement in his luck. He failed to start the second leg after a disappointing 21st place in the first. Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, five-times overall World Cup winner ran a disappointing first leg and failed to qualify for a place among the top 30 starters of the second leg.

Austria's G--nther Mader, edged out of the top spot in the overall World Cup standings by Aamodt at the weekend, crashed out of the first leg on Tuesday.

Aamodt said his decision to miss the downhill in Bormio at the end of December and stay at home to train over the Christmas holidays, had been a good one.

"The pause did me good, I had been among the top 10 at the beginning of the season, but never won, now I'm happy and I think I'm pretty strong," Aamodt said. "I feel as good as I did last year when I won five races, but this year I feel that the competition is stronger."

"Kranjska Gora taught me that I just have to concentrate on myself, on winning, and not allow myself to be distracted by other things," Aamodt said.

He added that he was looking forward to the prestigious Hahnenkamm downhill and slalom events in Kitzbuehel at the weekend, his first visit to the course.

"I'm really looking forward to skiing there, I know it's a tough, demanding course, but I want to do well there because I still have to qualify for a place on the Norwegian downhill Olympic team," Aamodt said.

Tomba said he had not entered the second leg because his knee had hurt, but added he would definitely take part in the Kitzbuehel slalom. The Italian does not ski downhill races.