'Unbelievable' second world gold as Gut-Behrami edges Shiffrin in GS

Luke PHILLIPS
·4-min read

Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami bagged a second "unbelievable" world championship gold as she edged hot favourite Mikaela Shiffrin to the women's giant slalom title in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Thursday.

American Shiffrin had been fastest down the first leg, but Gut-Behrami turned on the afterburners on the second run to clock a winning combined time of 2min 30.66sec.

It was a third medal in the Italian Dolomites for the 29-year-old Swiss racer after winning gold in the opening super-G and bronze in the downhill.

Shiffrin claimed silver down the Olympia delle Tofane course, at just two-hundredths of a second, to add to her super-G bronze and combined silver in Cortina.

Austrian Katharina Liensberger, who won joint gold in the parallel giant slalom, took bronze (+0.09sec) in a scintillating race held in beautiful sunny conditions.

"GS has always been important for me my entire career and I always knew if I was skiing well in GS then it鈥檚 easy to be fast even in the other disciplines," said Gut-Behrami.

"I've been struggling a lot through the last years and this year I was coming back step by step.

"Last week I had pressure and I knew that I could do really well and was just not trying to think about that. I was tired."

The Swiss added: "My coach kept telling me 'you're skiing good'. It's an unbelievable moment... An incredible way to bring an end to my world champs.

"It's always been my dream to win a medal in GS, my last race to which I always get with a lot of fatigue. To succeed today on such a long and tight race is incredible".

- No reset for Shiffrin -

Shiffrin said that winning three medals at these champs was "pretty cool".

"It was a really good fight. I feel a little bit more relaxed than in the past... than I normally would.

"It's not about a reset," Shiffrin insisted when asked about her mental approach to her next race, Saturday's slalom, after losing by so little.

"Sometimes it's more motivation. I was pushing, I'm excited about most of the skiing I did today.

"There are a lot of girls with close times fighting to get on to the podium. Two hundredths is not a lot of time, sometimes you can look at that and feel maybe a little pain for what could have been, but today I feel pretty excited and grateful to be in this division."

Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer, 14th fastest after the first run, clocked a cracking second run and held the lead as the top 10 skiers took back to the slope.

New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson eventually took over at the top. Swiss Michelle Gisin followed, but made a mistake up high to fall out of contention.

Liensberger forced the pace, and nearly paid for it, but somehow held it together to take a significant 0.64sec lead over Robinson with the fastest second leg.

It was then down to the top three. First down was Gut-Behrami, laying down a near-perfect line to clock the leading combined time.

Nina O'Brien, a surprise second place in the first leg, looked set to nail down a podium spot, but the American made a massive mistake coming into the final descent that left her in 10th, 1.80 sec off the pace.

The cameras then turned to the startgate, and Shiffrin, whose medals in Cortina ensured she has become the most decorated American skier, male or female, with most world titles (6) and with most world championship medals (10).

The 25-year-old started with a 0.06sec advantage, quickly extended to 0.11. But then the intermediate times slipped into the red: first 0.14, then 0.07 and finally 0.02 as she hared across the finish line.

The result left a whooping Gut-Behrami punching the air in delight.

France's two-time champion (2013, 2017) Tessa Worley eventually came in seventh (+1.64), trailing the podium's trio, Robinson in fourth, Siebenhofer in fifth and Poland's Maryna Gasienica-Daniel in a surprise sixth. Slovakia's World Cup overall leader Petra Vlhova finished 12th (+1.90).

After Olympic bronze medallist Federica Brignone skied out on the first run, Italian hopes lay with Marta Bassino, who shared parallel gold with Liensberger on Tuesday.

The winner of four of the five World Cup giants this season, however, could only finish 13th (+2.28) to groans from a partisan crowd drastically reduced in number because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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