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Ligety captures last pre-Games race

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Ted Ligety of the United States put together two nearly flawless runs in difficult conditions to win a World Cup giant slalom on Sunday, the last men's race before the Sochi Olympics.

Ligety, a two-time world champion in the event, overcame poor visibility to finish a massive 1.51 seconds faster than Marcel Hirscher of Austria in combined time over two runs.

"It's so tough when you can't see anything, it makes it so much more tiring. I'm glad I was able to make it to the finish line," said Ligety, who posted the fastest time in both runs.

The convincing win boosted Ligety's Olympic hopes.

"It's nice to get in another good, race and I hope I can carry that confidence over the next two weeks," said Ligety, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the men's combined.

The Sochi Games begin Thursday, and the alpine competition gets started Feb. 9 with the men's downhill.

In Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, American teen Mikaela Shiffrin failed to hold on to her opening-run lead as Frida Hansdotter of Sweden earned her first World Cup victory after eight second-place finishes. Shiffrin, 18, a top medal hopeful in Sochi, wound up seventh, 0.72 seconds behind Hansdotter.

Hotel rush: It's almost impossible to pin down how many hotels will be finished ahead of the Games, with a construction rush still continuing.

IOC president Thomas Bach got a status update on accommodation from local organizers at an executive board meeting.

"There is a great confidence and great satisfaction with what we have seen here," Bach said. "Of course … always before the Games, we have some issues to be addressed."

The accommodation situation for nonathletes threatened to become a major embarrassment for organizers when some Olympic-accredited people were turned away in recent days from unfinished hotels or checked into unfinished rooms.

Organizers estimate that thousands of media will arrive in Sochi today. About 11,000 overall are expected to be covering Russia's first Winter Games. Spectators are expected to flood in later in the week.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams conceded there were hotels that weren't finished.

"That doesn't mean they're empty shells with no beds or whatever," he said, adding that 41,000 rooms were being provided for the Games and, of those, 20,000 were brand new.

National pride: Athletes from 88 countries are set to compete in Sochi, a record for the Winter Olympics. The record was 82 at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Among those competing in the Winter Games for the first time is Zimbabwe, represented by Alpine skier Luke Steyn. Togo and Morocco have also qualified. Three athletes from India will compete as "independent participants" because their national Olympic committee remains suspended by the IOC pending election of new officials.

Hearing: The Court of Arbitration for Sport registered its first case of the Olympics. CAS said Austrian freestyle skier Daniela Bauer appealed to the sports court's ad hoc division to get added to the country's team. Bauer, who skis the halfpipe, says she has met qualifying requirements and that a place on the team was available for her but not awarded. CAS said it will hold a hearing today, and a decision is expected Tuesday.

. Fast facts

Sochi Olympics

What: 22nd Winter Games

Who: Athletes from about 85 countries

When: Friday through Feb. 23

Where: Sochi, Russia

Cost: Estimated at a record $50 billion

TV: NBC has U.S. rights and will provide more than 1,539 hours worth of coverage across six platforms.

Ligety captures last pre-Games race 02/02/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 2, 2014 9:15pm]

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