SESTRIERE, Italy (AP)Marta Bassino won a giant slalom on Saturday to claim her first World Cup victory in almost two years, and she did it on home snow.
Cheered on by a passionate crowd, the Italian skier improved on her second position after the opening run to triumph in Sestriere.
Bassino, who is from nearby Cuneo, finished 0.11 seconds ahead of Olympic champion Sara Hector of Sweden and 0.40 ahead of first-run leader Petra Vlhova, who is still looking for her first win of the season.
”I am really emotional. Arriving at the line with the green light in front of the Italians was really incredible,” Bassino said. ”I know it was hard because the slope was really tough. It was a fight more than a good feeling on my skis but to win here at home is amazing.”
It was Bassino’s sixth World Cup win, but her first since January 2021, the season in which she won the GS title.
World champion Lara Gut-Behrami, who won the only other GS of the season, was seventh, 2.02 behind Bassino, and just behind Mikaela Shiffrin.
Vlhova nevertheless managed to trim Shiffrin’s lead in the overall standings to 25 points.
”I was a bit in trouble with my skiing, so I was just fighting in the second run,” Vlhova said. ”Today was challenging. It was a tough day and really tough conditions, but I am happy with third place.”
Shiffrin won the two season-opening slalom races, with Vlhova finishing third in both. Neither finished on the podium in the slalom or the GS in Killington, Vermont, and both opted out of the speed races in Lake Louise in Canada last weekend.
Shiffrin beat Vlhova to the overall title last season. Vlhova won the previous year.
”I feel like it was a pretty positive step since Killington. It was much better skiing, but such a rough surface and I made a big mistake on the second run,” Shiffrin said. ”I wasn’t going to be winning the race anyway, but I would have been a bit closer.
”It’s just good to know that my skiing’s in a better place, but something I really struggle at is when it’s really, really rough. And I think it’s the roughest course I ever skied in a race so it was a challenge . But I am happy to actually come down without an injury and sort of live to fight for tomorrow.”
There is a slalom scheduled for Sunday.
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