SESTRIERE, Italy – Japanese slalom skier Akira Sasaki warmed up for his specialty event with a giant slalom run but veered off the course and failed to finish at the Turin Games on Monday.
Sasaki had a strong early run before losing control to miss a gate in the midsection as he became one of the 35 casualties who did not complete their first runs on a technically demanding course in the Italian Alps.
Compatriot Daisuke Yoshioka held out in both of his runs and finished 24th with a combined time of 2 minutes, 45.03 seconds.
Benjamin Raich of Austria won the gold in 2:35.00 and Frenchman Joel Chenal took the silver 0.07 back. Nagano Olympic gold medalist Hermann Maier of Austria got the bronze 0.16 behind Raich, adding to his silver in the Super-G.
“I wish I could have skied the way like I did early on. I thought I would be able to make the top 10 if I could attack the gates as straight as possible throughout two runs,” said Sasaki, who tested the snow in a competitive race for the first time in two weeks.
Sasaki is considered a dark horse in the men’s slalom Friday after matching his career best with a second-place finish in Schladming, Austria, on Jan. 25 in the final World Cup slalom in the runup to the Olympics.
Yoshioka said he was satisfied with his runs two months after an injury threatened to leave him out of the Turin Games.
“I was able to ski comfortably in my second run, though I wasted some time with the mistake in the first run and I regret it a little,” said the 26-year-old Olympic debutant, who broke his left hand last December.
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