CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami took her second gold and third medal of the Alpine skiing world championships on Thursday after beating Mikaela Shiffrin by two hundredths of a second in the women’s giant slalom.
Olympic champion Shiffrin had led after the first leg in a U.S.-team one-two with Nina O’Brien, who finished 10th, but was slower than the charging Gut-Behrami in the second run and had to settle for silver.
Austria’s Katharina Liensberger took the bronze medal, adding to her shared parallel gold.
“She’s been strong the whole world champs and really the whole season. It’s really cool to watch her skiing and she’s bringing this amazing attitude, every race taking the right risk and having really good skiing,” said Shiffrin of her rival.
“It’s real fun to compete with her right now.”
Gut-Behrami, who won last Thursday’s opening super-G and then took bronze in Saturday’s downhill, had been third after the first leg with 0.08 to make up.
She did it with an error-free run for the second best time of the leg, 0.09 slower than Liensberger but just enough to deny Shiffrin her second title of the championships after the combined.
After arriving without a gold to her name, with three silvers and two bronzes from previous worlds and one Olympic bronze, she leaves as the second most decorated Swiss skier of all time after Pirmin Zurbriggen.
Shiffrin’s silver was her 10th medal from five world championships, and third in Cortina, and the 25-year-old still has a fifth successive slalom title to aim for on Saturday.
“I think I can be happy with my skiing,” she told Eurosport.
“Today I was like ‘alright, the first run is good but the race for sure isn’t over’ and I think I know better than anyone how it can be to just throw it away in the second run,” she said.
“I was trying to push and be aggressive and do the best I could every turn. It wasn’t perfect but it was what I was trying to accomplish.”
New Zealand’s Alice Robinson finished fourth, moving up from sixth after the first run.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s my best result of the season, but also quite disappointing when you’re fourth and just missing the medals. But I really gave it my all today,” she said.
Defending champion Petra Vlhova of Slovakia was never in it and ended up 12th.
Hosts Italy had started with high hopes but overall World Cup champion Federica Brignone skied out on the first run and Marta Bassino was unable to replicate the form that took her to parallel gold.
Bassino, the best of the home skiers, was 13th in a race that had started with 99 contenders.
The men race their giant slalom on Friday.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)