Giant slalom title back in Worley’s hands

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Tessa Worley regained her giant slalom title at the world ski championships Thursday, holding off Mikaela Shiffrin to take gold.

Worley, the 2013 champion, finished 0.34 seconds ahead of Shiffrin, who was fastest in the second run, as warm sunshine softened the snow.

Soffia Goggia of Italy took bronze, 0.74 behind, four days after being in tears when losing her shot at the downhill title with a big mistake near the finish.

Shiffrin was third-fastest in the morning run.She then used downhill-style skills to be quicker than anyone on the relatively flat final slope.

The silver was the first medal in giant slalom for the 21-year-old American, who will start as the favorite for her third straight slalom world title on Saturday.

“Who knew?” Shiffrin said. “I’ve always known I could ski fast in GS. It’s taken a while to actually put that out there.”

Worley now has two golds in St. Moritz, after helping France win the team event on Tuesday.

“Today the pressure was bigger, but I did it. I’m so proud,” said the 27-year-old champion, the first-run leader who had a 0.48 gap on Goggia and two-tenths more on Shiffrin. “It seems a lot but it really isn’t.”

Worley and Shiffrin have been the dominant giant slalom skiers this season. The Frenchwoman leads 3-2 in World Cup wins, was runner-up in both of Shiffrin’s victories and tops the season-long standings.

Ski jumping: In Pyeongchang, South Korea, a day after clinching her fourth World Cup overall title with a second-place finish, Sara Takanashi won a ski jumping event Thursday at the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The 20-year-old Takanashi had 215.10 points, beating Japanese teammate Yuti Ito’s 213.60. Maren Lundby of Norway, who led after the first round with a Thursday-best jump of 103 meters, finished in third place with 210.20 points.

In the men’s competition, Maciej Kot of Poland finished first with 256.2 points after two jumps, with Stefan Kraft of Austria, who won the opening World Cup race at the same venue Wednesday, second with 252.2.

Early tuneup: In Sapporo, Japan, with the Winter Olympics just a year away, the Asian Winter Games will be the ideal stage for the continent’s leading winter athletes to fine tune for Pyeongchang 2018.

The eighth Asian Winter Games will open Sunday in Sapporo, on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, and run through Feb. 26, with more than 2,000 athletes from 31 countries competing in five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events.

Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan and China have traditionally been the dominant countries at the games but with Pyeongchang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022 hosting the next two Winter Olympics, athletes in the region are making a major push to be more competitive in global terms.

The Sapporo Games will also feature athletes from Australia and New Zealand competing, bringing an Oceania element to event.

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