Shiffrin pads World Cup lead in giant slalom won by Worley

Mar 5, 2022, 12:11 PM | Updated: Mar 6, 2022, 6:47 am
France's Tessa Worley, center, winner of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, celebrates ...

France's Tessa Worley, center, winner of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, celebrates on the podium with second-placed Italy's Federica Brignone, left, and third-placed Sweden's Sara Hector, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Sunday, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

(AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin stretched her lead in the overall World Cup standings Sunday by finishing fourth in a giant slalom after closest rival Petra Vlhová failed to finish the first run.

Shiffrin seemed to ski more cautiously in the second run, after being second-fastest in the first leg, and ended 0.77 seconds behind the winner Tessa Worley.

Worley, a two-time world champion, finished 0.29 ahead of Federica Brignone. Olympic champion Sara Hector let her first-run lead slip to finish 0.31 behind Worley.

If Shiffrin was skiing to protect her lead in a season-long duel with Vlhová, the updated standings show the tactic worked in a successful weekend at Lenzerheide.

Shiffrin earned 50 points for Sunday’s race — her first giant slalom since crashing out after just 10 seconds at the Beijing Olympics — and built her lead to 117 with six events left in the next two weeks. Race winners earn 100 points.

Shiffrin and Vlhová had been tied before the two-race meeting at the Swiss resort watched course-side by tennis great Roger Federer, who has a home within sight of the race hill.

On Sunday, Vlhová had her first failure to finish a World Cup race this season and her first in giant slalom after 11 straight points-scoring races since December 2020. She skied out midway down the steep course on a cold day under clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

Vlhová also struggled Saturday, placing 18th in a super-G despite a gate-setting designed by one of her coaches. Shiffrin placed second.

Meta Hrovat crashed out Sunday when poised to lead the second run, hooking her right ski around a gate and sent into a spinning fall. The 24-year-old Slovenian was helped to walk away for treatment at the side of the course.

A tough weekend for the Austrian team delivered no top-10 finishers on Saturday and a best of 10th on Sunday for Ramona Siebenhofer. It came after head coach Christian Mitter said he would leave at the end of the season.

Mitter is poised to join Shiffrin’s team of personal coaches, Swiss and Austrian broadcasters have reported.

Worley’s 16th career World Cup win, all in giant slalom, closed the gap in the discipline standings which are led by Hector with two races left. Worley, Hector and Shiffrin have combined to win all seven World Cup giant slaloms this season.

The women’s World Cup circuit now moves to Hector’s home country Sweden for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend at Are. The season finishes at World Cup finals week in the neighboring French resorts of Courchevel and Meribel.

Shiffrin is seeking a fourth career overall World Cup title and Vlhová is defending her first title won last season.

Brignone, the 2020 overall champion, is 225 points back in third, but is typically not competitive in slaloms, which account for two of the final six races. Vlhová and Shiffrin have won all seven World Cup slaloms this season and the Slovakian is the new Olympic champion.

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Shiffrin pads World Cup lead in giant slalom won by Worley