Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami posts 2nd straight World Cup giant slalom victory

Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami made it two giant slalom victories from two starts this season, winning a women's World Cup race Saturday in which Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States finished third. Val Grenier was top Canadian in fifth.

2022-23 season champion Mikaela Shiffrin 3rd, Val Grenier top Canadian in 5th

A smiling Swiss female skier holds her ski poles and reacts to her victory in a women's giant slalom World Cup race in Killington, Vt.
Third after a tight opening run, Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami, pictured, recorded the third-fastest time in the final leg to beat Alice Robinson by 0.62 seconds in Saturday's giant slalom in Killington, Vt. (Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami made it two giant slalom victories from two starts this season, winning a women's World Cup race Saturday in which Mikaela Shiffrin finished third.

The American improved from fifth position after the opening run and extended her lead in the World Cup overall standings.

"I am extremely happy, especially after last year here, I started to feel like it's a self-fulfilling prophecy that I couldn't ski my best here in Killington on the GS slope," Shiffrin said from Killington, Vt. She placed 13th a year ago but now has three podium results from six starts in her home event.

"It's been an adventure today to kind of find my best feeling I can have with, you know, some compromised training the last weeks. And I felt some really amazing skiing, some glimpses from last season, so I'm really excited and thankful for my team for the work they've done the last weeks to get there."

Shiffrin won the GS season title last season while setting the record for most career wins in the discipline with 21. She finished sixth in the season opener four weeks ago.

On Saturday, Gut-Behrami was third after the tight opening run before posting the third-fastest time in the final leg to beat Alice Robinson by 0.62 seconds in a two-run time of one minute 53.05 seconds. The New Zealand skier, who was the 2019 junior world champion, led after the opening run and earned her first podium result since March 2021.

WATCH | Gut-Behrami 1st back-to-back Swiss GS winner since 2001:

Gut-Behrami captures her 2nd career World Cup giant slalom win at Killington

6 months ago
Duration 1:44
Lara Gut-Behrami won Saturday's World Cup giant slalom race at Killington, Vermont with a winning time of 1:53.05.

Shiffrin called Gut-Behrami's final run "spectacular."

"It wasn't perfect, but she has this mentality to keep the speed no matter what," Shiffrin said. "That's the level we all want to get to."

Gaining confidence in giant slalom

Gut-Behrami also won the season-opening GS in Austria last month. She became the first female skier from Switzerland to win back-to-back giant slaloms since Sonja Nef achieved the feat in 2001.

"For me, it's amazing," said Gut-Behrami, who won the world title in GS in 2021 and Olympic bronze the following year. "Two years ago, I won the world champs, like 20 years after Sonja. Now back-to-back [GS wins], like her, it's amazing for me."

The former overall champion, who won the title in 2016 before Shiffrin won it the next three years, gathered 31 of her 39 career wins in downhill and super-G, but has gained confidence in giant slalom in recent seasons.

"I'm skiing well in GS, I feel confident," she said. "I'm always trying to improve, to find new motivation."

Olympic champion Sara Hector dropped from second to fourth, more than a second behind Gut-Behrami's time.

WATCH | The 2nd run of women's giant slalom from Vermont:

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Killington: Women's giant slalom run 2

6 months ago
Duration 1:26:37
Watch the second giant slalom run of the FIS World Cup ski race from Killington, Vermont.

Val Grenier of St. Isidore, Ont., was top Canadiain in fifth in 1:54.49 while Britt Richardson of Canmore, Alta., placed 22nd of 29 finishers (1:56.25).

It was Grenier's fourth consecutive top-seven finish dating to last season.

She is now 12th in the overall standings, one point ahead of Toronto's Ali Nullmeyer.

Grenier stood seventh after her first run and delivered a solid second run to move up to fifth in 1:54.49. That gave her a seventh career top five and best-ever result at the Killington course.

'Happy with a top 5'

"The snow was great today and I feel good about a fifth place," said Grenier. "I was a little too passive on the first run and then made a couple of mistakes on the second run.

"I know that I could've done more and knew that it probably was not going to be enough for a podium when I crossed the finish but happy with a top five."

Cassidy Gray of Panorama, B.C., finished 35th in the first run, while Sarah Bennett of Stoneham, Que., was 55th, both missed qualifying for the second run.

Calgary's Claire Timmerman made her World Cup debut and didn't finish the first run.

Marta Bassino, who was just ahead of Shiffrin in fourth after the opening run, failed to finish after losing grip on her inside ski in a left turn and sliding off the course.

Shiffrin (1:53.86) has yet to win the giant slalom of the annual race weekend on the East Coast, which has been part of the World Cup circuit since 2016. However, she has won five of the six slaloms.

The slalom is scheduled for Sunday.

Shiffrin was coming off her record-extending career win No. 89 at a slalom in Finland two weeks ago while dealing with a bruised knee after a training crash.

Shiffrin said she was finally able to train without pain again in the week building up to Saturday's race.

"It's really well. It's been over three weeks since the crash, so maybe it sometimes bothers me a little bit, maybe throughout the season, but it's not holding me back. I can push, so that's good," the 2018 Olympic GS champion added.

Shiffrin's result topped off a strong showing by the U.S. ski team.

Paula Moltzan finished eighth and AJ Hurt, who started 37th, ranked 12th after the opening run before dropping to 19th, leaving both racers one position short of their personal best in GS.

With files from CBC Sports

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