SEMMERING, Austria (AP) — Overall women’s World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin took a big opening-run advantage in a giant slalom on Tuesday, positioning herself for a first win in the discipline in more than a year.
Chasing career win No. 78, Shiffrin had a blistering start at Semmering and won considerable time on her rivals in the first 15 seconds of the run. The American posted the fastest split times in all but the last section and finished 0.72 seconds ahead of Petra Vlhová of Slovakia.
France’s Tessa Worley and Canada’s Valérie Grenier ranked third and fourth, respectively, within four-hundredths of Vlhová’s time.
“From the first turn I felt very good, I was very strong and dynamic, so I am super happy with my skiing,” said Shiffrin, who has won two slaloms and a super-G this season.
The results have left her five wins short of the women’s record for most World Cup wins, set by her former teammate Lindsey Vonn.
Shiffrin, who was the 2018 Olympic champion, has won 14 giant slaloms in her career, but none since triumphing in Courchevel, France, in December 2021. She had just one podium result from the seven giant slaloms so far in the calendar year 2022.
Opening the race in sunny conditions, Shiffrin was flawless except for the final few gates, where several others found a faster line.
U.S. ski team coach Magnus Andersson will set the gates for the second run on the Panorama course, which was in solid condition despite days of mild weather in eastern Austria.
“For me, it’s much better than I expected for the warm temperatures. The surface is very solid, it’s just some spots that will be breaking a bit,” Shiffrin said. “For the second run, there is going to be some tracks. I just have to be very tough and very aggressive.”
Marta Bassino, who leads the discipline standings after winning the previous GS, was 0.87 behind, and Olympic GS champion Sara Hector of Sweden had 0.96 to make up in the second leg.
Bassino’s Italian teammate Sofia Goggia, who is runner-up to Shiffrin in the overall standings, does not compete at Semmering.
The race is a replacement for the season-opening giant slalom that was canceled in another Austrian resort, Sölden, in October, and is the first in a three-day series, followed by another GS on Wednesday and a night slalom the next day.
Shiffrin won all three events when Semmering last hosted races on three consecutive days in December 2016 and the American was on her way to her first overall World Cup title.
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