Nef races to victory in Val d'Isère
The Swiss skier, Sonja Nef, has won the women's World Cup giant slalom race in Val d'Isère.
Nef, the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion, set the fastest time in the second run of the day to win the event with a combined time of 2:23.80.
Her overall time was nearly two-thirds of a second faster than that of Sweden's Anja Paerson, who settled for second place on 2:24.46.
Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister, who won the opening giant slalom of the season in Soelden, took the remaining podium place in a time of 2:24.63.
Switzerland's Marlies Oester finished 18th, Lilian Kummer was 26th, while Corinne Rey-Bellet ended the race in 29th position.
Nef's win, added to her second and third place finishes in the season's opening two giant slaloms, boosted her lead in the event standings.
"I had to give everything," she said after the race.
"It's harder to win this year. The competition is very tough and every mistake costs dear," she added.
World Championship title
The 29-year-old won six World Cup races in the event last season, five of them in a row, and took the World Championship title.
The Swiss star has won a total of 10 World Cup giant slaloms in her career and is likely to start as favourite in the event at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Nef said that before Sunday's race she thought of Swiss teammate Silvano Beltrametti's high-speed crash on the same course last week.
The 22-year-old was paralysed from the chest down after crashing during a downhill race.
"It's very difficult," commented Nef.
"It will take weeks to forget. I thought about the place where he came off the slope."
Von Grünigen second
Meanwhile in Alta Badia, Italy, Nef's Swiss compatriot Michael von Grünigen also sped towards a podium place in the men's World Cup giant slalom.
The veteran Swiss skier finished second in a tight race behind Frenchman Frederic Covili, who stole home with a combined time of 2:40.58.
Finland's Sami Uotila came in third to take the first podium place of his career.
Only 0.09 seconds separated the top three skiers.
Switzerland's Didier Cuche ended the race in sixth place with a combined time of 2:40.82.
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