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Ligety carves big lead in giant slalom

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Ted Ligety carved out a big lead in the men's giant slalom Wednesday with a masterful first run that has him close to filling a big hole in his resume.

Widely considered the best giant slalom skier of his generation, Ligety killed in clear conditions on the Rosa Khutor course, racing to the finish line in 1 minute, 21.08 seconds.

The 29-year-old American skied seventh in a field of 109 and had a lead of .93 seconds over Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic more than halfway through the first round.

Germany's Stefan Luitz actually finished closer -- .59 seconds off Ligety's pace -- but inexplicably straddled the last gate and was disqualified.

Italy's Davide Simoncelli was third, 1.27 seconds behind Ligety, and Sochi downhill champion Matthias Mayer of Austria was tied for fourth with France's Thomas Fanara, 1.33 seconds off the first-place pace.

The second and final runs will be held later Wednesday.

Ligety's greatest Olympic feat was a surprising win in the men's combined as a 21-year-old in 2006. He has never won an Olympic medal in the giant slalom, an event he has dominated at the World Cup level for years.

He skied out of the race in 2006 and finished ninth in 2010 but is in good position to finally win a gold in the event barring a mistake in his second run.

U.S. teammate Bode Miller was 2.56 seconds off Ligety's place and out of medal contention. Miller, 36, became the oldest Olympic medalist in alpine skiing on Sunday when he tied for bronze in the Super-G -- his sixth Olympic medal.

Defending Olympic champion Carlo Janka of Switzerland was 1.44 seconds back after one run while Vancouver Olympic downhill champion Didier Defago skied out of the race.

02/19 03:41:25 ET