Baumann leads super-combined; Ligety lurks in 6th

ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports Writer Published:

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) -- Romed Baumann of Austria took the lead after the downhill leg of the super-combined at the skiing world championships Monday, and American rival Ted Ligety was the best positioned of the technical specialists in sixth.

Baumann, who has won two World Cup super-combined races, finished in 2 minutes, 1.38 seconds down the icy Planai course, which was harder than in Saturday's traditional downhill after two more days of temperatures far below freezing.

"I knew it was a giant run as soon as I crossed the finish line," said Baumann, who didn't qualify for Saturday's downhill squad. "I knew I can handle this course well, but you just can't tell what might have happened in the downhill race. ... Now I must hope the slalom specialists make some mistakes tonight."

Two-time defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal, the Norwegian who won Saturday's downhill, was second, 0.14 behind. Christof Innerhofer of Italy, the defending silver medalist, was third, 0.38 back.

"It's the time difference that's important. It's a little too close with the slalom guys," Svindal said. "But it's not over until it's over."

The slalom leg was scheduled for Monday evening under the lights.

Ligety was 0.72 behind Baumann. Technical specialist Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was 10th, 1.37 behind, and Benjamin Raich of Austria was 12th, 1.52 behind.

Kostelic and Raich, both former overall champions, share the record of World Cup wins in super-combi with five each.

Alexis Pinturault of France, another pre-race favorite, was far back in 22nd, 3.35 behind.

Ligety won the combined in the old format with two slalom runs at the 2006 Turin Olympics, but he's never been on the podium in super-combined.

Ligety has improved in the speed disciplines lately, winning the super-G to open the championships. The downhill specialists struggled on the steep final pitch, but Ligety excelled, throwing his skis into each turn and leaning down and touching the snow with his hip and hands as if skiing GS.

"It's not a hill that is easy, but I charged the whole way and kept it clean," Ligety said. "I'm really happy to be only seven-tenths back."

Ligety would have liked a bigger lead on Kostelic and Raich, he said, "but I feel like I am in a place where I can easily take those downhill guys."

Swiss racer Sandro Viletta narrowly avoided disaster when a course worker skied onto the piste during his run. Viletta managed to ski around the worker, who looked oblivious to what was going on until Viletta passed him at full speed. Viletta smiled when he watched the video in the finish area.

Olympic champion Bode Miller is out for the season recovering from left knee surgery.