Italy’s Stefano Gross wins World Cup slalom; Hirscher 3rd

ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) Stefano Gross of Italy won a tight World Cup slalom on Sunday where just 0.03 seconds separated the top three finishers.

A first career World Cup victory for Gross denied first-run leader Fritz Dopfer of Germany his first win by just 0.02. Gross had a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 56.70 seconds.

Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria was a further 0.01 back in third and extended his lead in the overall standings.

At age 28, Gross finally won after three podium finishes in the 2012 season.

”I am very, very happy,” said Gross, who has overcome back injuries. ”I have worked really hard this summer and this season to reach this result.”

On a good day for the Italian slalom team, 2010 Olympic champion Guiliano Razzoli placed fourth, 0.55 behind his teammate.

Another Italian, 36-year-old Patrick Thaler, was second in the first run but skied out in the afternoon when poised to extend his own World Cup record as the oldest man to finish on a slalom podium.

Hirscher now tops the season-long slalom standings after previous leader Felix Neureuther of Germany failed to finish the first run.

Earning 60 World Cup points, Hirscher leads Neureuther by 56 in a repeat of their duel last season which the Austrian edged on the final day.

The three-time defending overall champion also tops those standings by 212 from Kjetil Jansrud of Norway who skips slalom events.

Dopfer let a half-second lead slip on the steep final slope and added to a resume of near misses.

The 27-year-old German now has five runner-up finishes in World Cup races, and placed fourth in slalom at the Sochi Olympics, just 0.05 out of the medals.