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Winter sports • Park City's Ted Ligety took the season-opening men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria on Sunday by the biggest winning margin since 1979.

In difficult conditions due to fog and snowfall, the American GS world champion won the race by 2.75 seconds ahead of Manfred Moelgg of Italy.

"It's pretty phenomenal," Ligety said. "I didn't think this was possible. This is an unbelievable gap, a once-in-a-career margin."

According to the International Ski Federation, the time difference between winner and runner-up in a World Cup GS has only been bigger six times before — all in the 1970s. Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark holds the record with a gap of 4.06 seconds.

In the opening run, Ligety was among the first eight starters who were slowed by bad weather causing poor visibility before the sky cleared. He still posted the second-fastest time, trailing Thomas Fanara of France by 0.04.

The American put in a risky yet error-free final run to claim victory in impressive style. Overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher came in third, 3.12 seconds behind.

It was Ligety's 12th career win, all in GS. The American won the race here last season as well but ultimately lost his GS title to Hirscher.

Ligety's achievement came in the first GS under new equipment rules, which force racers to use longer though narrower skis designed to slow them down.

• In Soelden, Austria, the International Ski Federation will discuss Lindsey Vonn's wish to compete in a men's World Cup downhill race during a Nov. 3-4 meeting in Switzerland.

Serena Williams earns 3rd WTA title

Tennis • Serena Williams dismissed Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the WTA Championships in Istanbul for the third time and finish the year with another title, but not the top ranking.

Williams ended the year with a 59-4 record and seven titles. Since her first-round loss at the French Open, she is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old Williams became the oldest player to capture the year-end championships. But she will finish the year ranked No. 3, behind No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Sharapova, because she did not play as well in the first half of the year. Azarenka lost to Sharapova in the semifinals.

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