ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) — Felix Neureuther overcame a big first-run deficit to win a World Cup giant slalom on Saturday for his second straight 2014 victory ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
The German was seventh in the morning, but benefited from fading sunshine in the afternoon to finish 0.10 seconds ahead of first-run leader Thomas Fanara of France. Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third, 0.19 behind Neureuther's combined time of 2 minutes, 34.60 seconds.
World champion Ted Ligety of the United States, poised to take the lead, skied out after hitting a bumpy patch midway down the second run.
Bode Miller skied out midway down the first run, losing his balance in softening snow and 43-degree temperatures.
Ligety, who won this race last year, had little chance to recover after launching toward a gate while preparing to make a turn.
"It is definitely a kick in the groin," said Ligety, who dropped to third behind Hirscher in his defense of the World Cup discipline title.
Neureuther's victory was just the second for Germany in men's giant slalom in 47 years of World Cup racing, and reduced team director Wolfgang Maier to tears in the finish area.
"It's just unbelievable," said Neureuther, who matched Max Rieger's win in March 1973 at Mont Saint-Anne, Canada. "It makes me very proud."
The victory was even more surprising in an era of GS domination by Ligety, Hirscher and Alexis Pinturault of France, who placed fourth Saturday. That trio shared the last 14 World Cup victories dating to February 2012.
"To tell the truth, I never thought in my career I would win a GS," said the 29-year-old Neureuther, whose seventh World Cup success followed his slalom triumph on Monday in Bormio, Italy.
Hirscher earned 60 race points and now leads Pinturault by 75 in the GS standings. Four-time winner Ligety trails by 120 with three races remaining.
"It's very positive for me about the standings," said Hirscher, adding that Ligety's bad luck was "a shocking moment."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway placed 12th and retained his lead in the overall World Cup standings, 77 points ahead of two-time defending champion Hirscher.
A typically large and raucous crowd of 29,500 lining the Kuonisbaergli course had only one Swiss racer to cheer in the second run. Carlo Janka, the Olympic champion in giant slalom, finished 20th.
On Sunday, Neureuther and Hirscher are the favorites in the slalom event.