Olympics

Slovakian Petra Vlhová wins World Cup giant slalom by big margin; Mikaela Shiffrin takes third

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ARE, Sweden — Slovakian skier Petra Vlhová dominated the penultimate women’s World Cup giant slalom of the season Friday, narrowing the gap on leader Mikaela Shiffrin in the overall standings.

Shiffrin was sixth after the opening run but improved to third, 1.70 seconds behind Vlhová. The American had her lead over Vlhová reduced to 77 points in the overall standings with five races left this season.

Marta Bassino, who dominated the discipline last season, was 1.24 behind in second.

Olympic GS champion Sara Hector was third after the opening run, but the Swedish leader of the GS standings straddled a gate early in her second run and did not finish.

Hector had her lead in the discipline standings cut to just five points from Tessa Worley, who finished fourth. Hector was on the podium in each of the last six giant slaloms while winning three of them.

Vlhová dealt best with soft snow conditions in both runs on an untypically warm day in central Sweden.

« With these kind of conditions, I feel really strong and I’m able to ski really fast, » Vlhová said.

In the first run, she seemed headed for a big lead. However, she lost about seven-tenths of a second following a mistake in the flat section before the finish and was just 0.03 faster than Bassino.

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Vlhová avoided similar mishaps in the final run for her first GS victory since winning her home race in Jasna a year ago.

« It’s quite important — but it’s important for myself, » Vlhová said. « Finally, after more than one year, I come back and I am on the top of the podium. »

Returning to the venue of her 2019 world giant slalom title, Vlhová bounced back from skiing out in the opening run of a GS in Switzerland last weekend, allowing Shiffrin to increase her overall lead with a fourth-place finish.

Wendy Holdener had a nasty crash when her ski caught a bump, causing her to lose balance and ski through the next gate before she slid into the safety netting alongside the course. The Swiss two-time medalist from the Beijing Olympics got up and skied down the course as she apparently escaped serious injuries.

In the first run, Federica Brignone hooked a gate with her left arm and failed to finish. The 2020 overall champion from Italy secured the super-G season title last weekend.

The second run took place on a floodlit course, which is rather unusual for a giant slalom.

A slalom is scheduled for Saturday, the last women’s race before the World Cup Finals in Méribel, France, next week.

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