Sölden (Austria) (AFP) – Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg won the World Cup curtain raising giant slalom at Soelden on Saturday setting an early marker with the Olympic Games looming in South Korea in February.
The 2010 Olympic champion in the technical speciality who also won bronze at Sochi 2014 clinched the win with a brilliant second run having ended the earlier run in third.
“That was tough, the second run, a fight from the top all the way down, but I managed to follow the exact line I had in mind,” said Rebensburg.
“I had a disappointing season last year so I refocussed on the giant, which is my real speciality,” added the 28-year-old.
France’s Tessa Worley had been sixth after the first descent and expressed regret at her reticence, the reigning world champion promising to “let the horses go” on the second run.
And so it was as Worley, last year’s winner of the giant slalom crystal globe, negotiated the gates with great grace to climb to second at 0.14sec.
“I was a bit stressed on the first run, I was too nice. So I really attacked the slope on the second and was happy to get second place in the end.”
The 34-year-old Italian Manuela Molgg, last off after taking the first leg, held on for third at 0.53sec.
“I was absolutely delighted when I saw I’d managed third,” said the veteran, who would have become the oldest woman to ever win a World Cup event had she retained her lead.
“Everything was easy on the first run but I got caught in the tracks on the second and lost my way a bit,” she explained.
“I’m still working on that,” she smiled when asked about an eventual first World Cup win.
“This was like a win, I was the oldest on the podium.”
World Cup overall title holder Mikaela Shiffrin, just 22, lost her balance on the second run taking a gate way too wide.
The 2014 Olympic slalom champion started the second run in second place and the youngster from Colorado hung her head as she ended in fifth.
Speed specialists and surprise starters Lindsey Vonn and Lara Gut were both eliminated on the first run, Vonn missing the cut and Gut missing a gate.
This was Rebensburg’s 14th World Cup win, her first one coming at Soelden seven years ago.
America’s Olympic champion Ted Ligety is in action in the men’s race on the same Soelden slopes of the Rettenbach glacier on Sunday.