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TOMBA DOMINATES CUP RACE

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The men's World Cup skiing season finally started over the weekend and Alberto Tomba was already in midseason form.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist gained his 34th World Cup victory - 35 by his count - by dominating the slalom race, his specialty.Tomba, who won two golds in the 1988 Olympics and another in the 1992 Winter Games, was timed in 1 minute, 41.84 seconds for the two runs down the course that had a drop of 605 feet, winning by 1.02 seconds.

The men opened their competition this weekend after warm weather and lack of snow canceled races in three countries. Tignes was one of the few places in Europe to be able to handle a race, with its altitude of more than 8,500 feet above sea level.

The International Skiing Federation will make a decision for upcoming races in Austria, Italy and Switzerland this week with a possibility of coming back to Tignes or nearby Val d'Isere to catch up on canceled races.

Except for a cautious trip on the first run of Saturday's giant slalom, Tomba could have come away with two victories.

He said he was not aggressive enough on the first giant slalom run that left him in 22nd place. But he came back with the best second-run time to vault to fourth. Liechtenstein's Achim Vogt won the race but was not entered in the slalom as his country is allowed just one competitor.

On Sunday, Tomba didn't need any come-from-behind heroics. He led after the first run by .17 seconds, but he wasn't happy.

"The first run the gates were set too far apart. It was like a super slalom. I was surprised I did so well. I didn't expect it," Tomba said.

He had a 50.81 on the second run, second only to Michael Tritscher of Austria, who was eighth on the first slalom run. Tritscher moved into second with his 1:42.86 total time.

Third was Thomas Fogdoe of Sweden with 1:43.03.

It was the 34th World Cup victory for the 27-year-old Tomba and 23rd in slalom. On the victory stand, Tomba carried a ski bib with 35, including a win in a parallel race in 1988 that does not count in World Cup standings.

Tomba is currently fourth in career overall victories. He can catch Pirmin Zurbriggen and Marc Girardelli if he has an exceptional year. The all-time leader is Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden with 86 wins.

The victory puts Tomba in the overall lead of the World Cup standings with 150 points.

Tomba has never won a world title. The 1995 world championships will be held at the beginning of February in Spain.