Brignone rallies to beat Holtmann in GS, Shiffrin 17th

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New Zealand’s Alice Robinson competes during an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Courchevel, France, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.(AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

COURCHEVEL, France (AP) — Federica Brignone won her first women’s World Cup giant slalom in more than a year on Tuesday, while Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin struggled to find pace and finished 17th.

Brignone trailed leader Mina Fuerst Holtmann of Norway by 0.13 seconds in third place after the opening run but the Italian posted the fifth-fastest time in the second to win by four-hundredths.

It was Brignone’s 11th career World Cup win and sixth in GS, but first since triumphing in Killington in November 2018.

“I had to try to be more aggressive and try to arc more than the others because the snow could permit this,” said Brignone, referring to the spring-like conditions on the Stade Emile-Allais course.

“I was just trying to ski my way and attack.”

The race took place in mild temperatures in contrast to the weekend when up to a meter of snow fell.

Still, the course was “much better than expected,” Holtmann said after the first run. “It’s warm, it’s soft, but it’s holding up really well.”

Holtmann stepped on a World Cup podium for the first time, in her third year on the circuit.

The Norwegian competes only in technical races on the World Cup circuit although she excelled in speed events as a teenager, winning the downhill junior world title in 2015.

Shiffrin was already 1.33 off the lead after the opening run and failed to match the pace of the leading racers in the second run, set by her coach Mike Day.

The American finished 1.65 behind in 17th, missing the podium for the first time in seven GS races.

“It’s not because I did something bad or made a mistake,” Shiffrin said. “You know, I am not supposed to be winning. These girls are fast, they deserve it, too.”

Shiffrin made no obvious mistakes in either run.

“There certainly wasn’t something wrong with my setup. Sometimes it’s the driver, not the equipment,” she said. “Sometimes you have these races. It’s a little bit heartbreaking. I don’t have some excuse. I just need to ski faster.”

The American skipped a parallel slalom in St. Moritz on Sunday to rest and prepare for the races in France this week, which continue with a downhill and an Alpine combined in Val d’Isere this weekend.

While the American lost her lead in the GS season ranking to Brignone, she remained well on top of the overall standings, leading the Italian by 165 points.

Brignone’s Italian teammate, Marta Bassino, who won the previous GS in Killington last month, was second after the first leg but dropped to seventh.

Wendy Holdener of Switzerland trailed Brignone by 0.44 in third for her first career podium in the discipline, while New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson, who edged Shiffrin to win the season-opener in Soelden in October, was 0.98 behind in 10th.

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