Brignone wins World Cup combined event, Holdener takes globe
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Federica Brignone edged Olympic champion Michelle Gisin to win the last women’s World Cup Alpine combined event of the season on Sunday, while Wendy Holdener took the season-long title in the discipline.
Ranked fifth after the super-G portion, Italian GS and super-G specialist Brignone surpassed expectations by posting the third-fastest time in the slalom leg. Her run was just enough to deny Gisin another victory, 10 days after the Swiss skier won Alpine combined gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
“It’s steep and I love that,” Brignone said about the Mont Lachaux course. “I love this snow, the spring snow, for slalom.”
It was Brignone’s third win of the season, raising her career total to eight. The Italian overcame persistent adductor problems, which forced her to return early from a preseason training camp in South America and to sit out the start of the World Cup season.
“I just want to finish my season in the best way,” Brignone said. “For sure the beginning was hard because of my injuries. I just wanted to recover and show good races.”
She certainly showed her strength Sunday, finishing in an aggregate time of 1 minute, 46.46 seconds and beating Gisin by 0.03 seconds. Petra Vlhova of Slovakia trailed by 0.09 in third place. Sofia Goggia of Italy, who led after the super-G run, dropped to eighth.
Holdener, who won the only other combined event this season, finished fourth to secure the season title in the discipline. The Swiss skier also won the globe for the season’s best combined skier in 2016.
“It’s extremely nice to win another crystal globe,” the Swiss skier said. “I knew I didn’t have to win this race. That made it difficult for me. I wasn’t as relaxed as usual. I gave my best. It wasn’t the best skiing but I am happy that it was enough.”
After placing third and earning 60 World Cup points in Saturday’s super-G, Holdener added another 50 points on Sunday, closing the gap to overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin to 561 points with six races remaining.
Shiffrin, who won silver in Alpine combined at Pyeonchang to add to her gold from the GS, didn’t race this weekend to prepare for next week’s technical races in Germany. Also, American teammate Lindsey Vonn skipped the events in the heart of the Swiss Alps as she will only compete again at the World Cup finals in Sweden in two weeks’ time.
While there is still a mathematical possibility to overtake Shiffrin, Holdener said “there is no chance” that she will dethrone the reigning overall champion.
“I just hope to defend my place,” she said. “I am second and it would be nice if it stays that way.”