Swiss skier Carlo Janka has won the men's giant slalom at the World Championships at Val d'Isère.
It was an emotional victory for the 22-year-old, coming a day after his closest friend on the Swiss team, Daniel Albrecht, woke from a three-week induced coma following a crash in training at Kitzbühel.
An hour before Janka's victory doctors said Albrecht would suffer no permanent damage from his brain and lung injuries.
"For sure it was good news that I got before the race," Janka said. "It really boosted my morale and I would say that I share this medal with him. It's a great day for Swiss skiing and we hope we will soon see Daniel back with us."
Janka timed two minutes, 18.82 seconds for the two runs down the French resort's Face de Bellevarde course. Benjamin Raich of Austria finished second, 0.71 behind, and Ted Ligety of the United States was third, 0.99 back.
"The second run was a struggle from start to finish. I was lucky at the crucial points," Janka said. "I told myself, 'just keep going and it'll be fine'."
Three other Swiss skiers took part. Didier Cuche, seeking a third medal after his gold in super-G and silver in downhill, came sixth, Marc Berthod tenth and Didier Défago 20th.
The Olympic piste was bathed in sunshine for both runs on a crisp, clear day with the temperature at minus 20 degrees Celsius in the finish area when racing began.
Though recent heavy snowfalls had been cleared away, some powder remained to take the harshest edges off the notoriously steep and icy course.
Janka, known as "Iceman" in Switzerland for his laid-back personality, was widely favoured for the giant slalom after finishing his preparations at the Swiss resort of Veysonnaz earlier in the week.
He relishes the technical Bellevarde slope, taking bronze in Saturday's downhill and winning a World Cup giant slalom race there in December.
"It's fantastic! Especially after the excellent news about Dani. What a day!" he said.
Olympic giant slalom champion Raich also went home to train this week. The 30-year-old Austrian was under pressure to deliver his country's first medal in the men's races at the fourth attempt.
Ligety leapt into the bronze medal position after being ninth fastest in the morning run. His run of 1:09.85 was fastest in the second leg.
Bode Miller's disappointing championships continued. After being 17th in the first run, the 2003 world champion in giant slalom skied out before halfway in the afternoon. The American was the only one of the top 30 morning racers not to complete the second leg.
The 31-year-old star is now winless in 26 World Cup events and four world championship races this season.
The Swiss team on the other hand are celebrating their sixth medal, exceeding their target of five, with two more races – the men's and women's slalom – still to come.
swissinfo with agencies
Alpine World Ski Championships
The Alpine World Ski Championships take place every two years. For 15 days, skiers will compete for medals in the same disciplines as in the World Cup.
A contest among nations, the event is divided into men's and women's events.
This year the races take place from February 2-15 at the French ski resort of Val d'Isère. It is the first time that France has organised the championships since 1968.
Men's giant slalom results
1. Carlo Janka (Switzerland) 2:18,82 (1:08,25/1:10,57);
2. Benjamin Raich (Austria) 2:19,53 (1:08,73/1:10,80);
3. Ted Ligety (US) 2:19,81 (1:09,96/1:09,85);
4. Marcel Hirscher (Austria) 2:19,88 (1:09,40/1:10,48);
5. Massimiliano Blardone (Italy) 2:20,49 (1:09,21/1:11,28);
6. Didier Cuche (Switzerland) 2:20,51 (1:09,38/1:11,13);
7. Jean-Baptiste Grange (France) 2:20,57 (1:09,90/1:10,67);
8. Alexander Ploner (Italy) 2:20,60 (1:10,24/1:10,36);
9. Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) 2:20,61 (1:10,46/1:10,15);
10. Marc Berthod (Switzerland) 2:20,76 (1:10,55/1:10,21);
In compliance with the JTI standards