Worley warms up with giant slalom win in Italy before worlds

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France's Tessa Worley won her first World Cup race in over two years and 14th overall in the women's giant slalom in Italy on Tuesday, warming up for next month's world championships.

Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin dropped from second after the first run to fourth overall in the final race in the discipline before the world championships.

The 31-year-old Worley, who had been fifth fastest after the first run, pulled out a blistering second to finish 0.27sec ahead of Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami.

Worley will target her third giant slalom world title after 2013 and 2017 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, also in the Italian Dolomites, from February 8-21.

"The worlds are always a goal, a date that you check off on your calendar, and I have been doing so since the start of the season," the French skier told AFP.

"I'm ramping up as the month of February approaches. It is hyper-encouraging, that's obviously a good sign.

"But today, I was focused on the race."

Italy's Marta Bassino, the World Cup leader in the discipline ahead of Worley, took the final podium position.

"I'm super proud," continued Worley, whose last World Cup win was in October 2018.

"On the one hand I told myself that I had done all the work to achieve it but then I thought maybe it wasn't possible any more with injuries, the years that pass.

"And in the end, I still had it in me."

A giant slalom specialist, her 32 World Cup podiums have all been in the event. This season she also finished on the podium in Courchevel, France and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

"I wanted to take all the risks so as not to have any regrets and see where it took me," she continued.

"I knew I had to do a very big, big second run. This slope is about attacking at the end because it's dark and bumpy.

"You need to have a big heart to ski on it."

Worley joins the top three of the most succesful women in World Cup giant slaloms, on the day her partner Julien Lizeroux ends his 21-year career in the men's slalom at Schladming, Austria.

"All day long I thought a lot about his day and his evening which will be so important. It's a new chapter for him."

Shiffrin had trailed Michelle Gisin, the Swiss who led following the first run, but lost ground after posting the 17th fastest time in the second.

Gisin finished sixth overall, finishing 27th in the second run after missing a gate while leading in the final part of the course.

Overall World Cup leader Petra Vlhova was 12th on the day. The Slovak has 883 points, ahead of Gisin's 783.

ea/mw