If Anna Fenninger repeats as World Cup overall champion next week, she will look back at Friday’s giant slalom in Are, Sweden as a turning point.
The Austrian Fenninger overtook Slovenian Tina Maze in the overall standings with her victory Friday. Maze, who was tied for sixth place after the first of two runs, shockingly unraveled in the second run under the lights and finished 20th. She leaned on her skis and hung her head in the finish area.
Maze had placed second or third in the four previous World Cup races.
Fenninger, who entered Friday’s race 44 points behind Maze for the World Cup overall lead, jumped 45 points ahead of Maze. She won by .71 of a second over Italian Nadia Fanchini. Austrian Eva-Maria Brem was third, followed by American Mikaela Shiffrin, who turned 20 Friday.
Maze, who won three medals at the World Championships in February, has five races left to retake her lead to win a second World Cup overall title in three seasons.
First up is a slalom in Are on Saturday, where Maze should be able to make up some, perhaps all, of that deficit. Shiffrin will be the favorite. Shiffrin reportedly reunited Friday with a Swedish girl diagnosed with leukemia whom she first met in Are in December 2012, site of Shiffrin’s first World Cup win.
The season concludes with the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, next week.