VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) — Veteran Mario Matt of Austria posted the fastest time in the first run of a World Cup slalom race on Sunday.
A two-time former slalom world champion, the 34-year-old Matt clocked a time of 51.52 seconds, putting him 0.32 seconds clear of Italian Patrick Thaler and 0.49 ahead of Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange on the notoriously difficult Stade Olympique de Bellevarde course.
"The focus now is on the second run and hopefully I can push," said Matt, the slalom world champion in 2001 and '07. "The start of the season has been very good."
It was another disappointing day for American skiers, with neither Ted Ligety, who finished 39th, nor Bode Miller, who went off course after struggling on the top section, qualifying for the second run. Both had failed to finish the first run in Saturday's giant slalom.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher won Saturday's GS but struggled on the tricky top section and finished way down in 41st as those who started their runs later profited from better conditions.
Other pre-race contenders also struggled, with Frenchman Alexis Pinturault — who was fourth in GS — going off course near the bottom as he tried to make up time, while Austria's Manfred Pranger also veered off after starting strongly.