MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second.
Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as she built a lead of 0.71 seconds over Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, who clocked the same time.
Italian teammate Elena Curtoni was 0.78 seconds behind in fourth.
The combined event adds the results of a super-G run and one slalom run.
Both Gut-Behrami and Mowinckel were among a group of eight speed specialists who used their run as practice for the super-G race Wednesday and will not start in the slalom portion. Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia and two-time downhill world champion Ilka Stuhec also skipped the second leg of the combined event.
Shiffrin posted the sixth fastest time and had 0.96 seconds to make up on Brignone in the slalom, the American’s strongest discipline.
“I know Federica doesn’t ski a lot of slalom, but I know that when she skies it, she can be very fast. So, I am not sure if I can actually make up nine-tenths on that,” Shiffrin said. “The ones who win a medal are the ones who have a pretty solid run in both events or a really killer run in at least one event. I think I can do a very good run of slalom, so now I just focus on that.”
Shiffrin was competing in her first major event since failing to win a medal in six starts at last year’s Beijing Olympics.
“I am pretty satisfied with my first run. I felt pretty good with my skiing,” Shiffrin said. “Obviously there are some section where I can ski much faster.”
Shiffrin has won six world titles and 11 medals in total from 13 previous starts at world championships.
American teammate Breezy Johnson came off the race line and crashed through a gate halfway through her run but said said was unhurt.
Brignone said the course was tricky with some shadowed sections making it difficult to see the terrain.
“There are a lot of rolls so you have to be really, really precise. I tried this and it went really good,” Brignone said. “I didn’t think I would be so far ahead. I thought I had a good run. I felt well and I did well, tactically, because I was very aggressive on the bumps.”
The Italian also led the combined event at her home world championships two years ago, but skied out early in the slalom run.
“In slalom, anything can happen. I was first in Cortina and then I did three gates,” she said. “I am also a nice slalom skier, for sure not the best, but I can do some pretty good runs.”
Italian teammate Marta Bassino was one of the five skiers who failed to finish. She missed a gate after entering a shadow part of the course.
Swiss skiers Michelle Gisin, who is the Olympic champion, and two-time world champion Wendy Holdener finished more than 1.5 seconds off the lead outside the top 10.
Petra Vlhova, the silver medalist from 2019 and 2021, sat out the race to focus on her core events of giant slalom and slalom. The 2021 overall World Cup champion from Slovakia has struggled with health issues in recent weeks.
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