KILLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Tessa Worley of France was on top of a World Cup podium again.
She captured a giant slalom Saturday in Vermont — unfamiliar territory on the World Cup circuit — and was a winner for the first time since a knee injury three years ago.
“The tough part was to get back the spirit of the races, and to be able to give everything, and to do my best skiing during races,” she said.
Worley won in 1 minute, 59.26 seconds. She was 0.80 seconds ahead of Norway’s Nina Loeseth, who led by 0.09 seconds after the first run. It was Worley’s ninth giant slalom World Cup victory but first since the injury in 2013.
Sofia Goggia of Italy was third in 2:00.37, charging from 14th place with the fastest second run. Marta Bassino of Italy was fourth in 2:00.39.
Vermont last held a World Cup race in 1978, at Stratton Mountain, and this was the first for Killington. Mikaela Shiffrin, runner-up in the season-opening giant slalom in Austria, had plenty of fans in her corner on the Superstar trail but could do no better than fifth.
The Olympic champion attended Burke Mountain Academy in northern Vermont. She skied well in the first half of her second run but lost time near the bottom of the bottom of the course. She remained the overall World Cup leader, with 225 points to 140 for Worley.
A day earlier, Shriffin said she enjoyed no advantage over the field because she had never skied on Superstar. But all her years as an East Coast skier, with dozens of training runs in rain and ice, had toughened her up.
Swiss star Lara Gut, who won the season’s first giant slalom, was among 13 skiers who failed to finish the first run. She caught an edge early in her run and skied out.
Worley was adroit in handling a day of tough conditions. There was fog, snow squalls, a challenging surface and a 45-minute delay to the first-run start. She drew off the crowd of some 15,000, one of the biggest for an Alpine race in the U.S.
“I was really surprised,” she said. “We were hearing about maybe 5,000 people, and actually it was three times more. You could feel the energy and I really like racing in those conditions.”
The race took place under overcast skies, with fog moving in and out, particularly during the second run. The fog had lifted and the wind was blowing snow showers across the slope as the top skiers pushed out for their second runs.
This was Goggia’s first top-three finish, and she didn’t expect to be on the podium after her rough first run. But one of her coaches told her to “use less of her brain,” and she took to the advice. She decided to just ski her best and see what happened.
The crowd at Killington Resort filled the grandstands and a VIP tent near the finish area, with spectators flowing up the side of the race hill. Among them were about 1,000 junior ski racers from programs across Vermont. They took part in a parade before the first run.
World Cup racing resumes at Killington on Sunday with a slalom, and Shiffrin will be the one to beat. She’s on a five-race winning streak in her favorite discipline.