Mikaela Shiffrin pads World Cup lead by finishing fourth in giant slalom

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — Mikaela Shiffrin stretched her lead in the overall World Cup standings Sunday by finishing fourth in a giant slalom after closest rival Petra Vlhova failed to finish the first run.

Shiffrin seemed to ski more cautiously in the second run, after being second fastest in the first leg, and ended 0.77 seconds behind winner Tessa Worley.

Worley, a two-time world champion, finished 0.29 ahead of Federica Brignone. Olympic champion Sara Hector let her first-run lead slip to finish 0.31 behind Worley.

If Shiffrin was skiing to protect her lead in a season-long duel with Vlhova, the updated standings show the tactic worked in a successful weekend at Lenzerheide.

Shiffrin earned 50 points for Sunday’s race — her first giant slalom since crashing out after 10 seconds at the Beijing Olympics — and built her lead to 117 with six events left in the next two weeks.

Shiffrin and Vlhova had been tied before the two-race meeting at the Swiss resort watched courseside by tennis great Roger Federer, who has a home within sight of the race hill.

On Sunday, Vlhova had her first failure to finish a World Cup race this season and her first in giant slalom after 11 straight points-scoring races since December 2020. She skied out midway down the steep course on a cold day under clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

Vlhova also struggled Saturday, placing 18th in a super-G despite a gate-setting designed by one of her coaches. Shiffrin placed second.

Meta Hrovat crashed out Sunday when poised to lead the second run, hooking her right ski around a gate and sent into a spinning fall. The 24-year-old Slovenian was helped to walk away for treatment at the side of the course.

A tough weekend for the Austrian team delivered zero top-10 finishers Saturday and a best of 10th on Sunday for Ramona Siebenhofer. It came after coach Christian Mitter said he would leave at the end of the season.

Mitter is poised to join Shiffrin’s team of personal coaches, Swiss and Austrian broadcasters have reported.

Worley’s 16th career World Cup win, all in giant slalom, closed the gap in the discipline standings, which are led by Hector with two races left.

The women’s World Cup circuit now moves to Hector’s home country, Sweden, for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend at Are. The season finishes at the World Cup finals week in the neighboring French resorts of Courchevel and Meribel.

Shiffrin is seeking a fourth career overall World Cup title. Vlhova is defending her first title won last season.

Brignone, the 2020 overall champion, is 225 points back in third, but is typically not competitive in slaloms, which account for two of the final six races. Vlhova and Shiffrin have won all seven World Cup slaloms this season, and the Slovakian is the new Olympic champion.