Jessica Lindell-Vikarby

Anna Fenninger wins Worlds giant slalom; Vonn, Shiffrin, Maze miss medals

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Austrian Anna Fenninger won her second gold medal at the World Alpine Skiing Championships, taking the giant slalom, while Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Tina Maze finished off the podium.

Fenninger, who captured the super-G last week, prevailed by 1.4 seconds combining times from two runs Thursday in Beaver Creek, Colo. Fenninger was fastest in the first run and second fastest in the second run, despite nearly falling at one point.

“I thought I will crash,” Fenninger told NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno. “It’s unbelievable that I could stand and stay in the course. It’s so close to lose everything and [then] to win everything.”

German Viktoria Rebensburg earned silver, followed by Swede Jessica Lindell-Vikarby taking bronze.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was fifth, ending her bid to become the first woman to win five individual medals at a single World Championships. Maze, the World Cup overall leader who may retire after this season, previously took gold in the downhill and super combined and silver in the super-G.

Shiffrin placed eighth in the giant slalom, her second-best event behind the slalom, where she will defend her World title Saturday. Shiffrin had placed tied for first, third, sixth and 10th in four World Cup giant slaloms this season.

Watch Shiffrin’s second run here.

Vonn finished 14th, competing in giant slalom for the first time in more than two years and in her final event of these World Championships. Boyfriend Tiger Woods was on hand to watch her race Thursday. Vonn improved from 27th place after the first run with the fifth-best second run.

“Second run, I finally found the timing, and I just let it go,” Vonn said on NBCSN. “It’s nice to kind of end these championships on a positive note.”

Vonn, 30, ended the World Championships with a bronze medal in the super-G, a fifth in the downhill and did not finish the super combined. She hoped for better after winning five of 10 World Cup starts in her comeback in December and January.

“These World Championships just haven’t really gone the way I had hoped and dreamed that they would,” Vonn, who felt knee soreness during Worlds, said after her first run Thursday, according to the Denver Post. “I’ve got to look at the small positives. I still have one medal, and I’m proud of that.”

Vonn’s next goal is contending for a World Cup overall title.

The World Championships continue with the men’s giant slalom Friday, including defending World champion Ted Ligety.

World Alpine Skiing Championships broadcast schedule

Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 12th in final race of season

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin must wait until next season to check off that next goal.

The 19-year-old Olympic slalom champion finished 12th in the World Cup Finals giant slalom in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Sunday. It marked the last race of the season.

Shiffrin, who won her fifth slalom race of the campaign Saturday, was fourth after the first of two giant slalom runs Sunday. She dropped in the second run, finishing .95 of a second behind Austrian winner Anna Fenninger.

“I was trying hard, maybe a little too hard,” Shiffrin said. “But it was still a fun race.”

The Olympic super-G champion Fenninger, 24, won the giant slalom season title three days after clinching her first World Cup overall title.

In addition to her repeat slalom title, Shiffrin completed her season seventh in the World Cup giant slalom standings and sixth in the overall standings. She was 19th in the giant slalom and sixth in the overall last year.

Shiffrin had second- and third-place finishes in giant slalom races this season but is still looking for that first GS win to add to her nine slalom victories. She said before Sunday that breakthrough GS win is her next goal.

Her season is not finished, however. Shiffrin is expected to race at the U.S. Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., this week.

“I’m going to keep attacking the GS and see what else I can come up with for next year,” Shiffrin said. “I improved a lot since last season.”

Fenninger finished her season on a tear, winning her fourth straight giant slalom race. She’s the youngest women’s World Cup overall champion since Lindsey Vonn won her second title in 2009.

Fenninger passed German Maria Hoefl-Riesch for the overall title in Lenzerheide.

Hoefl-Riesch, 29, crashed in the downhill Wednesday and had to be helicoptered off the course, ending her season. She still finished in the top three of the overall standings for a seventh straight year.

Lenzerheide Giant Slalom
1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 2:01.28
2. Eva-Maria Brem (AUT) 2:01.53
3. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) 2:01.61
4. Nadia Fanchini (ITA) 2:01.86
5. Lara Gut (SUI) 2:01.89
6. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 2:01.90
7. Anemone Marmottan (FRA)
8. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 2:01.94
9. Federica Brignone (ITA) 2:02.01
10. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) 2:02.04
12. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:02.23

Final World Cup Giant Slalom Standings
1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 518
2. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) — 492
3. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) — 339
7. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 257

Final World Cup Overall Standings
1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) — 1,371
2. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) — 1,180
3. Lara Gut (SUI) — 1,101
4. Tina Maze (SLO) — 964
5. Tina Weirather (LIE) — 943
6. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — 895
7. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) — 647
8. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) — 640
9. Nicole Hosp (AUT) — 575
10. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) — 534

Hirscher adds slalom globe to overall title

Mikaela Shiffrin lands on Lienz GS podium, Olympic team

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In landing on another podium, Mikaela Shiffrin made sure she also landed a spot in Sochi in a second event.

The American teen finished third behind Austrian Anna Fenninger and Swede Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in a World Cup giant slalom Saturday in Lienz, Austria, the final Olympic qualifying event in the discipline.

With the next World Cup giant slalom race not scheduled until Feb. 1 in Maribor, Slovenia, and the U.S. selecting its Olympic Team on Jan. 26, this was the final opportunity for American skiers to earn points toward Sochi qualification in the discipline.

Shiffrin had already locked up her spot on the Olympic team with her slalom victory in Levi, Finland on Nov. 16, and her runner-up finish in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek on Dec. 1 also virtually assured her an Olympic GS start. Athletes with World Cup podium finishes are nominated for inclusion in the Games. Scoring a second podium finish only served to cement her candidacy.

Based on criteria, three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso would appear to be the next U.S. choice. She could have made that decision a no-brainer with a Top 10 finish – her best GS finish this season was a 12th in St. Moritz on Dec. 15 – but she continued her season-long struggles and wound up finishing 29th. Megan McJames, the only other American on the startlist, did not help her chances of making the Sochi roster when she hooked a tip a few gates before the finish of the first run and skied out.

Although slalom is clearly Shiffrin’s best event – she is the reigning world champion and has reached eight podiums in 22 World Cup starts with five victories – she is steadily entering the conversation of serious medal contenders in giant slalom as well.

Shiffrin has four Top 10 finishes in five starts in the discipline this season, the only blemish a DNF in St. Moritz on Dec. 15. Prior to this race, she opened with a sixth-place effort in Soelden on Oct. 26, finished second in Beaver Creek, and finished eighth in Val d’Isere on Dec. 22.

After one run, Shiffrin found herself in fourth place, .35 seconds behind the pace set by Lindell-Vikarby, who managed difficult conditions on the Hochstein course to open scant leads on Austrians Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel, who came in .02 seconds and .04 seconds behind.

“I’m normally pretty comfortable within half a second on a first run,” Shiffrin said. “It’s always better to come down and feel like you separated yourself from everybody, but I’m not quite there in GS. As long as I am in this position where I can really attack I’m psyched with that.”

Unlike her first run, where she dumped a few fractions of a second in the middle of the course, Shiffrin gained speed through that portion of her second run and carried a .68 second lead to the finish. Zettel followed, but lost most of her first-run advantage by the first time interval and wound up finishing fourth.

Fenninger absolutely pinned the top half of her second run and saw her .33 second advantage on Shiffrin at the start almost double by the first interval. She maintained that speed through the middle and lower sections and crossed with a half-second lead on Shiffrin. Lindell-Vikarby was unable to match that performance, assuring Fenninger of her third straight victory in World Cup races held on Dec. 28. Fenninger, who won this race in 2011, is the first woman to win the Lienz giant slalom twice.

“My preparation was good but I didn’t believe I could win today,” Fenninger told the Associated Press. “It’s funny that I’ve done it again on the 28th. I came here full of good memories and I tried to build on that feeling. I’ve learned a lot in recent years. I used to get distracted easily at races in Austria but now I use the home support as positive energy.”

All five World Cup giant slalom races this season have been won by different women.

It was not a good day for reigning World Cup overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia and 2010 Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who each found themselves than two seconds off the lead pace set by Lindell-Vikarby during Run 1. Maze wound up finishing 14th while Rebensburg was 24th.

American Lindsey Vonn is sitting out this weekend to rest her re-injured right knee ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

Lindell-Vikarby added 80 points to her season total and continues to lead the World Cup season standings in giant slalom 332 points. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who finished 17th, remains the overall points leader with 609, 12 points ahead of Fenninger.

“The overall World Cup is not really an issue now, although people keep asking me about it,” Fenninger told AP.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues in Lienz tomorrow with the women’s slalom. The first run begins at 4:30 a.m. ET and second run at 7:30 a.m. ET. Shiffrin and Austria’s Marlies Schild figure to be among the top contenders.

“Last time I was in Lienz, I didn’t have a great GS race but I had a pretty good slalom race, so I’m really excited for tomorrow,” said Shiffrin, who earned her first World Cup slalom podium as a 16-year-old on this course. “I’m just thinking day-by-day and trying to put my best skiing out there. I feel like I always leave something on the hill, and I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Lienz Giant Slalom

1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 2:17.00

2. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) 2:17.50

3. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:17.51

4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 2:17.96

5. Nadia Fanchini (ITA) 2:18.19

6. Federica Brignone (ITA) 2:18.30

7. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 2:19.21

8. Anemone Marmottan (FRA) 2:19.33

9. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 2:19.48

10. Denise Karbon (ITA) 2:19.54

29. Julia Mancuso (USA)

DNF Megan McJames (USA)