Road To The Olympic Games

Double Aksel: Svindal clinches 2nd overall crown

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway clinched his second World Cup overall title in three years Saturday in Are, Sweden, when rival Benjamin Raich straddled a gate in the opening run of the slalom season finale and was disqualified.

Norwegian returns to top of ski world after last year's horrific crash

Aksel Lund Svindal is the alpine World Cup overall champion for the second time in three years.

The Norwegian clinched the 2008-09 championship Saturday at the World Cup finals in Are, Sweden, when rival Benjamin Raich straddled a gate in the opening run of the slalom season finale and was disqualified.

The Austrian, trailing by two points going into the final race of the season, was the only skier who could have caught the leading Svindal.

Svindal, one of the last starters, had 1,009 points going into the race but he went off the course on run No. 1. By then it didn't matter, as Raich had already finished with 1,007 points, giving Svindal the smallest margin of victory ever in the World Cup overall chase.

"It's not luck to get over 1,000 points in the World Cup," said Svindal, whose point total was the lowest in history for an overall champion. "But to win by two points after he skis out is luck."

Austria's Mario Matt won Saturday's race with a two-run combined time of 1:45.71, ahead of Frenchmen Julien Lizeroux and Jean-Baptiste Grange, whose third-place finish was good enough to secure the slalom championship.

But the big story was Svindal, who captured the overall crown in 2006-2007 as a 24-year-old and appeared poised to repeat before disaster struck.

Injuries ended season

On the heels of two victories early in the 2007-08 season, Svindal suffered a horrific crash in Colorado that left him with fractured facial bones and a deep cut to his buttocks and groin, ending his season.

The top Canadian in the overall standings was Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., who finished 22nd with 408 points. Calgary's John Kucera finished 24th and Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, B.C., was 25th.

Michael Janyk of Whistler, B.C., capped off a historic season in which he became the first Canadian male to reach the podium in a technical discipline at the world championships, finishing 16th in Saturday's slalom. Janyk wound up 20th in the slalom standings and 54th overall.

Canadians men's head coach Paul Kristofic said it was a successful season for Janyk and the rest of the technical team.

"It was a rebuilding year, really, but a very critical year. So we set a mandate to bring the performance level up as quickly as possible. I think the coaches, led by (technical team head coach) Dusan (Grasic), did a really great job implementing that plan and sticking to it," Kristofic said.

American Bode Miller, the defending men's overall champion, sat out the last three weekends in Europe and also skipped the final. He didn't win a race all season and has yet to decide on retirement.

With files from the Associated PRess

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