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Anna Fenninger captures giant slalom title at worlds

February 13, 2015

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Anna Fenninger’s ski tips nearly crossed going from one turn to the next late in her run, lurching her violently forward.

Somehow, the Austrian recovered. Improbably, she stayed on course. Even more implausibly, she hardly lost any speed.

Just that kind of world championships for Fenninger, where everything is going right.

Fenninger recovered from a near-wipeout to win the women’s giant slalom title Thursday, while American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin finished eighth.

Leading after the opening run, Fenninger posted a combined time of 2 minutes, 19.16 seconds to beat Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany by 1.40 seconds. Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby was third.

Fenninger was cruising along in her run when she caught an edge. She didn’t panic or try to fight it. Instead, she went with her momentum and that led her right back onto the course and on to her second gold medal at worlds.

These days, the skier with the cheetah pattern on the side of her helmet is fast even when she almost falls.

“When I came to the finish line and saw I was in the lead, I can’t believe that,” said Fenninger, who also won gold in the super-G and silver in the downhill at Beaver Creek. “It was too much for me.”

Lately, she’s been too much for everyone else as well.

“I told her to not be so fast, to take her time in the second run,” said Rebensburg, who added her first world medal to the two Olympic medals she possesses, including gold in the GS from the 2010 Vancouver Games. “I’m very impressed with the performance of Anna.”

Hard not to be. She now has as many individual medals as the Americans have as a team. It also was the Austrians’ eighth medal of the world championships, which is five more than the country’s nearest rival.

Speaking of medals, Slovenia’s Tina Maze wound up fifth, ending her quest to earn a medal in every event at Beaver Creek worlds. She’s earned two golds and a silver so far, with the women’s slalom Saturday.

Exhaustion finally caught up to Maze as she leaned over on her ski poles after finishing her run.

“My energy was not enough to be on the podium. I just couldn’t bring out more,” Maze said.

This was the first medal for Lindell-Vikarby at a world championships.

“I love the snow here,” Lindell-Vikarby said. “It’s a pretty easy hill.”

Not for Lindsey Vonn, who struggled for nearly two weeks to figure out the nuances of the slope. But she may have discovered something in her final run.

After a shaky opening run, Vonn held nothing back on her second pass in her final event in front of a hometown crowd. She even had the lead for a little bit, before slipping to 14th, 3.22 seconds behind Fenninger.

“I really risked everything,” said Vonn, who had boyfriend Tiger Woods on the sideline for her race. “I let it go. I’m really happy with my run.

“It’s nice to end these championships on a positive note. I tried my best at these whole championships — not every run worked out.”

Vonn earned one medal — bronze in the super-G — at this version of worlds.

Meanwhile, Shiffrin had a solid showing in her first individual event of these championships. Her only regret? She wishes she would’ve attacked the course more in her first run. She had too big a deficit to make up.

Shiffrin insisted there wasn’t any added pressure or nerves as she competed in her backyard.

“It’s my job to perform,” said Shiffrin, who’s from nearby Eagle-Vail.

Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin made a quick recovery after cracking the tibia bone in her right knee last month and finished 19th in the giant slalom.

“I wish I could’ve skied a little more free in my mind, but at the end, I’m very, very thankful to my knees that they were so good (to me),” said Gisin, who tied with Maze for the Olympic downhill gold at the 2014 Sochi Games. “There will be other races this season. ... I hope to finally reach the top again.”

There were several big names that didn’t finish the first run, including Eva-Maria Brem of Austria and Lara Gut of Switzerland.

“Coming here, everybody knew on this slope I could be really fast. I was fast sometime, but not enough,” said Gut, who departs with a bronze medal in the downhill. “I think I could’ve done more, but in the end, you need luck. You need everything.”

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