Alberto Tomba is hurting for his birthday but Vreni Schneider is feeling fine after her 53rd World Cup victory.

Tomba, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, had to withdraw before the second heat of a men's World Cup giant slalom race in Val d'Isere, France on Sunday. The race was won by Switzerland's Michael Von Gruenigen.Schneider, also with three Olympic golds, won under the lights in Sestriere, Italy Sunday night. The victory put Schneider within nine of equalling Annemarie Moser-Proell's women's career mark of 62 wins.

The 30-year-old Schneider, the defending World Cup overall champion, clocked an unbeatable combined time of 1 minute, 38.55 seconds down the demanding Kandahar course, beating Swedish runnerup Pernilla Wiberg by 0.87 seconds.

Tomba turns 28 today and said he would spend it trying to prepare for slaloms Tuesday and Wednesday at Lech Am Arlberg, Austria. The Italian superstar hurt the rib last Monday night when he ran into a pole during the warmup for the slalom in Sestriere, the first-ever World Cup race under the lights.

He underwent medical examinations Wednesday but the Italian Ski Federation gave him a green light to compete in Val d'Isere.

Italian doctors said Tomba was given a pain killer injection after the first run but Tomba explained that pain was too strong to withstand "because giant slalom movements caused compression of the ribs."

Despite dropping out after being in ninth after the first run in the men's race, Tomba stayed in the overall lead with 250 points. Von Gruenigen moved to within a point at 249 with Patrick Ortlieb of Austria third with 230 points.

Tomba said he had high hopes of starting in Lech in search of his third consecutive slalom victory "because in slalom you have a different position and I think pains will not be as strong as today."

"The problem in going up and down with the body while in slaloms you are mostly straight up," Tomba said.

Von Gruenigen had a smooth first run in establishing a big lead over the rest of the field. He held on to record a .81-second margin after two runs with a total time of 2 minutes, 25.09 seconds.

"The big lead in the first leg let me relax during the second and that helped," Von Gruenigen said.

Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway, last year's overall champion, was second with Austrian Guenther Mader third.

Mader's performance capped a strong Austrian showing in the trio of men's races that were shifted to Val d'isere after cancellations in Italy and Austria.

Josef Strobl, a 20-year-old former junior world champion, made a sensational start in his first two World Cup downhills with a first and third.

Armin Assinger of Austria also took a downhill as the Austrians went 1-2-3-4 on Saturday after a 1-3-4 finish on Friday.

The women's World Cup returned to Europe with the night slalom on a strip of artificial snow in the Italian resort just over the mountain from Val d'Isere.

Schneider climbed to second place overall, with 357 points.