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Girardelli Wins Third Combined Title in World Championships

February 21, 1996

SIERRA NEVADA, Spain (AP) _ Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli won the combined gold medal today in the world championships, his third world title in the event and 13th medal in world and Olympic competition.

Girardelli, 32, who has won a medal in the last six world championships, had a total time of 3 minutes, 31.95 seconds in the slalom and downhill. Norway’s Lasse Kjus, the defending Olympic and world champion in the event, was second in 3:32.20 and Austria’s Guenther Mader followed in 3:32.93.

Girardelli was fourth in the downhill at 1:52.96 after finishing second in Tuesday’s slalom portion, 2.42 seconds behind slalom specialist Mario Reiter of Austria. Reiter was 12th in the downhill in 1:56.42 to finish fourth overall at 3:32.99.

``I didn’t expect to win because the difference between Reiter and me was too big,″ Girardelli said. ``I expected a silver, but not a gold. But Kjus and the other downhillers had fast runs and pushed Reiter back.″

Girardelli also will compete in the giant slalom and slalom.

``I have a chance to do well, but not to win a medal,″ he said.

Reiter, 25, has one World Cup slalom victory this season, but has not raced a World Cup downhill this season. However, the relatively flat and easy downhill at Sierra Nevada prompted many more slalom specialists than usual to take a shot at the combined title.

Girardelli has won one of this season’s two World Cup combined events, the Austrian-born skier’s 46th career victory to place third on the all-time list behind Italy’s Alberto Tomba and former Swedish star Ingmar Stenmark.

The gold medal was Girardelli’s fourth in the world championships. His other gold came in slalom in 1991. He finished second in the giant slalom and super-G in the 1992 Olympics.

Kjus, ninth after Tuesday’s two slalom runs, won the downhill in 1:51.82, but came up short in his bid to defend his title. He has won three World Cup downhills this season. Mader was second in the downhill in 1:52.38.

The combined downhill was originally set for Monday, but delayed two days by driving winds and snow. Tuesday’s combined slalom was run at night _ a first in the competition _ under strong winds and snow.

Clear and cold weather returned to the championships today with a race-time temperature of 12 degrees.

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