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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 18:23 GMT
Superb Raich claims second gold
Benjamin Raich
Raich stretched his advantage in the second run
Benjamin Raich won his second gold of the Winter Olympics and led an Austrian clean sweep of medals in the men's slalom in Sestriere.

Raich, the giant slalom champion, led by one-hundredth of a second after the first run and held his nerve on his second run for victory.

Reinfried Herbst was 0.83secs back in second with Rainer Schoenfelder third.

Britain's Alain Baxter finished 16th, three seconds behind Raich, with brother Noel in 20th.

Baxter was making his Olympic return, four years on from the agony of losing his bronze medal after failing a drugs test in Salt Lake City.

"There were sections that were good," said Baxter, who was stripped of a bronze in 2002 after testing postive for a banned substance.

"But there were sections where the pattern wasn't quite as I'd like it.

"I've enjoyed the Games. I would have been a little bit happier one place better, but in one way it was positive for the rest of the season."

Raich, the first man to win the two technical events at the same Games since Alberto Tomba in 1988, insisted he did not feel any pressure.

"The feeling is incredible," said the 27-year-old.

"Everybody was expecting a lot from me but I had nothing to lose because I already had a gold medal.

"It's unbelievable for me to win two medals here and I think it's a perfect moment for all the Austrian team."

Austria are the first country to win all three slalom medals and their Alpine director Hans Pum said: "This is the greatest Olympics ever for us."

Finland's Kalle Palander, who was second behind Raich after the opening run, saw his chances of victory disappear when he straddled a gate and although the Finn completed the course, it was to no avail.

Giorgio Rocca
Rocca's hopes disappeared when he crashed out in the first run

Home favourite Giorgio Rocca, who had won five World Cup slaloms this season, missed out on a medal after crashing halfway through his first run.

Nine of the top 29 skiers did not finish the first run of the slalom, including American combined champion Ted Ligety and his compatriot Bode Miller who were both disqualified for straddling gates.

Miller, 28, who was last year's overall World Cup champion, failed to win a medal despite competing in all five Alpine skiing events.

Defending champion Jean-Pierre Vidal of France withdrew after breaking his arm free-skiing on Friday.

Rocca, starting first, seemed anxious in front of the expectant Italian crowd and lost control of his skis on the lower section of the piste.

The 30-year-old was attempting to become Italy's first men's Alpine skiing gold medallist since Tomba in Albertville in 1992.

"I lost a great opportunity that can come back only in the next Olympics," he said.

"The most important thing was to do my best and I gave my best in the top portion of the course.

"I skied very well and I felt very good before the race."




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