Mikaela Shiffrin fifth in expected-to-be last race before Olympics


SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy — After waiting seven years for a second World Cup win, Sara Hector now has three more victories in giant slalom — and they could not have come at a better time with the Winter Olympics starting next week.

Hector won the final World Cup GS on Tuesday before the Beijing Olympics, with 2018 gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin in fifth.

Hector was second after the opening run but overtook defending overall champion Petra Vlhova for her second straight GS victory, and her third this season. Her only previous World Cup win had been in December 2014.

The Swedish skier let out a scream after crossing the line 0.15 seconds ahead of Vlhova on a clear and cold day at Kronplatz mountain in the Dolomites.

“Crazy! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw I was that fast when I came to the finish. Incredible,” Hector said. “There are so many good skiers I’m definitely not unbeatable. But now I’ve been fast so that’s really, really cool.”

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Tessa Worley of France was third, 0.52 behind Hector and just ahead of Federica Brignone. Shiffrin was 0.81 slower than Hector and slipped to third in the giant slalom standings.

Hector leads the standings ahead of Worley by 95 points. The 29-year-old puts her improvement down to developing a better understanding of her needs.

“I think for me the most important is to really feel calm…so I can focus. I’m easily wound up and then I’m having problems,” Hector said.

“It took me a long time to understand what I need. Now I know much more about what I need and that’s been cool to find out.”

Hector, 10th in the 2018 Olympic GS, won three of the last four World Cup GS races after the reigning Olympic champion Shiffrin won the first two this season.

Before this season, Hector had one World Cup podium since the start of 2015.

Shiffrin goes into the Olympics ranked second in the World Cup in slalom (behind Vlhova) and third in GS (behind Hector and Worley, though she would likely be ahead of Worley if she didn’t miss one GS due to COVID).

Shiffrin has said her plan is to race all five individual events at the Olympics, where the first women’s race is the GS on Feb. 7.

Her best shot at gold appears to be the combined, which is not on the World Cup calendar this season. Shiffrin won the combined at last season’s world championships.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for speed races on Saturday and Sunday, live on Peacock.

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