Switzerland’s Gut-Behrami wins giant slalom gold at skiing worlds

After going her entire career without a major championship title, Lara Gut-Behrami added a second gold medal to her burgeoning collection from this year’s skiing world championships.

Mikaela Shiffrin, meanwhile, earned a silver medal to give her one of each colour — and with her best event still to come.

Gut-Behrami edged Shiffrin for gold in the giant slalom on Thursday, making up a deficit on the first-run leader with a blistering final leg to beat the American by two-hundredths of a second.

After Shiffrin had completed her run, Gut-Behrami hugged the American and stormed through the finish area to celebrate with her coaches.

“GS has always been so important for me in my entire career,” the Swiss skier said. “I always knew that if I’m skiing well in GS then it’s easy to be fast even in the other disciplines.”

However, Gut has been struggling in GS in recent years and failed to win a race in the discipline since triumphing in the season-opening World Cup race in 2016.

“This year I was coming back step by step,” she said. “Coming to the finish line, I had already on my mind it’s the first time I’m winning a medal in GS. To win the gold here is unbelievable.”

Pre-race favourites struggle

Katharina Liensberger of Austria was 0.09 behind in third in what was the closest finish ever of a women’s giant slalom at the worlds. American skier Nina O’Brien was 0.02 behind in second after the opening run but dropped to 10th after a costly mistake shortly before finishing her final run.

Many pre-race favourites, including defending champion Petra Vlhova and Italian duo Marta Bassino and Federica Brignone, struggled with course conditions as the snow surface varied between grippy, icy and soft.

Gut-Behrami became the first GS world champion from Switzerland since Sonja Nef won the title 20 years ago. Gut-Behrami also won gold in the super-G and bronze in the downhill at this year’s worlds.

Shiffrin earns 10th career medal at worlds

Shiffrin extended her American record with her 10th career medal at worlds. She won the combined event on Monday and took bronze in the super-G a week ago.

Shiffrin dropped 0.14 seconds behind Gut-Behrami halfway through her final run but made up time in the flat final section. Settling for silver, she said she was still “happy.”

“The first thing I saw was the red, but I felt good with my skiing. I was pushing. It was not a perfect run, but it was aggressive,” said Shiffrin, who has now won 10 medals from 12 events at the worlds since her debut in 2013.

“I have never been shooting for a number of medals or those records or something,” she said. “Just every time I race, I want to win.”

Shiffrin has a shot at another medal on Saturday, when she aims for her fifth straight slalom title.

“This world champs has been really nice,” she said. “I am having three medals now going into the final race where for sure I have another chance but it has already been incredibly successful.”

Vlhova failed to make up a deficit of 1.17 seconds from the opening run despite her coach, Livio Magoni, setting the gates for the final run.

The overall World Cup leader from Slovakia finished 1.90 seconds behind in 12th.

Italy didn’t live up to its status as main medal contender, with Bassino placing 13th and Federica Brignone skiing out 40 seconds into her first run.

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