MARIBOR, Slovenia (AP) Giant slalom specialist Tessa Worley got back to winning ways on Saturday, clinching a French record 11th career win in her favorite discipline.
Worley had been beaten by Mikaela Shiffrin at two GS races last week. But with the American leading again after the opening leg, Worley used a near-perfect final run to grab her third win of the season.
”It feels better for sure,” said Worley about winning again. ”I can’t say I was disappointed as second places are awesome. But to be able to fight back to the top feels great.”
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Worley had the fastest second-run time to beat Sofia Goggia by 0.16 seconds as the Italian skier earned her seventh podium of the season. Defending overall champion Lara Gut of Switzerland came 0.25 behind in third.
First-run leader Shiffrin was still 0.13 seconds ahead of Worley at the final split time of her second run but finished 0.42 off the lead in fourth.
”It was a superfast course and I didn’t quite match the speed that it’s carrying,” Shiffrin said. ”So, you know, I am still learning.”
Shiffrin, who held a slim 0.07-second lead over Goggia after the first run, was aiming to become the first American woman to win three straight races in the discipline since Tamara McKinney in March 1983.
Worley won the world GS title in 2013 but her career suffered a setback when she tore the ACL and damaged the meniscus in her right knee 10 months later. She failed to win another race for three years, but has meanwhile become a strong favorite for the World Cup discipline title this season.
Worley extended her lead over Shiffrin to 85 points, with Gut 190 points back in third.
”I am feeling better again since last year. I do things a little faster, a little stronger,” Worley said. ”It’s also a question of confidence. I have more confidence now and I can attack a little more.”
That showed in her final run, in which she nearly slid off course but recovered with her left hand in the snow.
”I was kind of on the edge there but it is the risk you have to take because the level is so high,” said Worley, whose victory made her the most successful French woman in the discipline, overtaking Carole Merle who had 10 wins in the 1980s and `90s.
In what was likely her last race, former overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia started her opening run in race style and was only 0.69 off Shiffrin’s time at the first split.
But 46 seconds into her run she stopped to hug her coach and boyfriend, Andrea Massi. She then skied on at a leisurely pace and clicked out of her skis just before finishing.
Maze walked over the line, threw her goggles, gloves and poles into the stands with thousands of cheering Slovenian fans.
The two-time Olympic champion hadn’t competed since March 2015 after taking last season off to consider her future. In October, she announced her retirement after doing one more event, Saturday’s race in her home country.
However, in an interview with The Associated Press two days ago, Maze didn’t rule out a return next season, which includes the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.
”The most important thing is to live in the moment, not in the past and not in the future,” Maze said Saturday.
Sabrina Simader became the first skier from Kenya to compete in a World Cup race. Simader, who moved to Austria with her mother as a three-year-old, finished 8.14 seconds behind Shiffrin and failed to qualify for the final run.
A slalom on the same course is scheduled for Sunday.