Vlhova holds nerve to take GS Gold in Are

Petra Vlhova held her nerve to add the Giant Slalom World Championship title to her growing array of success this season. Vicki Rebensburg slipped down to second after having lead the first run with American favourite, Mikaela Shiffrin taking the bronze. Ragnhild Mowinckel and Federica Brignone rounded out the top five from a very weather affected race.

With the start having been lowered to the first reserve start before the race started due to the high winds affecting the course conditions, the race was always liable to be affected by the conditions. Run one saw Rebensburg take the fastest time ahead of Vlhova with Mowinckel in third. Shiffrin was approaching a half second behind the leader with Tessa Worley, Sofia Goggia and Federica Brignone the only other racers within a second of the lead.

Britain's Alex Tilley had posted the 26th best time, just under three seconds off the pace of the leader. This would give her an early start for the second run and a cleanish track. With the slope having been salted and watered down to try to maintain the conditions for the racers, Tilley was in a good position to try and break into the top fifteen finishers and give her points towards her World Cup starting position. The top 15 in the World Championships score points that go towards their WCSL starting position but not towards the World Cup season total.

Sadly for Jess Anderson, making her World Championship debut, a strong and determined top of the course saw her on target to make the second run before she crashed out. More will come from the talented Ambition trained racer in the seasons to come.

With the lights on for the second run, the first run had started in the early afternoon to capitalise on the world wide television audience expected. The wind was still playing a major part in the race. Flags on the gates had been partly undone to try to keep the gates upright but this still did not stop a number of racers being blown slightly off course.

New Zealand's Alice Robinson, just 17 years old, got the second run off to a great start and posted a competitive time first down the course. The young Kiwi would eventually go on to finish 17th, just 0.08 out of the top fifteen finishers!

Tilley, going four after the Kiwi was determined to leave everything on the slope and her top section was gutsy and a fight against the conditions and the wind in particular. A small error at the top was overcome yet a much bigger error that saw her drop down below the line saw her challenge come to an end.

With ten to go, Ricarda Haaser and Wendy Holdener had produced one of the rarest results in the history of racing: The two had shared tenth place after the first run and posted the same time on the second run as well, both would finish just ahead of the young Kiwi, Robinson. Sara Hector, 15th after the first run was still in the lead and would stay there until Federica Brignone took the lead with six to go.

Goggia crashed out spectacularly and then Worley dropped in behind the Italian Brignone. It was exciting racing given the affect the wind was having. Racers want even conditions but sometimes the elements play their part in this outdoor sport.

Shiffrin was fourth last to go of the top thirty finishers. Only sixty make the second run, Ireland's Tess Arbez secured that spot, but it was all about the top thirty from the first run.

Shiffrin needed a super charged second run. Already with a Gold from the Super G, she set off on a charge and went into the lead. Would it be enough to hold onto a place on the podium?

"There was more fighting (in my second run) and it was more aggressive and more deserving of the podium. So I’m really happy with that and coming away tonight with a bronze medal after the gold in super-G is very much a dream come true," reflected Shiffrin.

Mowinckel had a seven hundreds of a second advantage but dropped behind Shiffrin with a mistake near the bottom. How far could Shiffrin go up the podium now?

Vlhova was a quarter of a second up on Shiffrin when she left the start gate and was on a mission. She was ahead of the American all the way down and took the lead, knocking Italian Brignone off the podium.

Nine years ago Rebensburg won the Olympic Gold in Giant Slalom in Whistler. Since then injuries and circumstances have meant that she has not been a successful as she would have expected to be. All the way down the second run it looked like she would add the World Championship Gold to her tally of achievements but then between the last split time and the finish, she lost over half a second to drop into second.

"I am so proud that I am from Slovakia because we are not a big country and now I am a world champion so it’s amazing. The whole team did a great job, and finally I showed everyone who Petra from Slovakia is," said Vlhova.

For Vlhova, this was the first Slovakian Gold in alpine, for Rebensburg, it was a tough feeling but something she embraced with her renown honesty: "It’s a cool story since I raced in my first World Championships here in 2007, I also had a really good run so for now it’s cool that I could win a medal here. For me it’s a really special place, I have so many nice memories from here, and it's a special thing for me," said Rebensburg.

“Everyone was dealing with wind, and it was kind of a strange race with tough conditions,” said Shiffrin. “It’s an outdoor sport - weather is one of the many variables you can’t control. The wind was challenging, but the surface was also soft. It kind of reminded me of the Semmering (Austria) GS. I was thinking in between runs how bummed I was after Semmering, where I ended up fifth. It was a terrible race for me...so I wanted to fight for it. So today it was like redemption for that, in a way. As far as the weather goes, it is what it is.”

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