Federica Brignone claims maiden World Cup win
Italian Federica Brignone started off the 2015-16 Audi FIS World Cup season in dream fashion after she earned her first-ever World Cup victory topping the giant slalom field on Rettenbach glacier in Soelden (AUT).
Brignone led after the first run by nearly a full second and skied nearly a flawless second run to finish ahead of USA’s Mikeala Shiffrin by 0.85 seconds. Tina Weirather (LIE) rounded out the podium 1.25 off the pace, taking her fourth-ever giant slalom top-three finish.
With several of the top names out of the game this season, today was the first chance for people to see who will shine and try to fill in the gap left by retired athletes, injured athletes and those taking a season off. So it almost came as little surprise that the season started with Brignone's maiden World Cup win.
"It is so great," a jubilant Brignone said. "I'm so happy about this first win. I have been close sometimes in the past but I thought it had never happened because I didn't deserve to be there. Last season was good but didn't bring enough satisfaction so I took some time off after in the spring. Then I decided to train as hard as ever and I even have a new physical trainer. This good preparation enabled me to push until the end and that felt so good"
Shiffrin, last year’s Soelden giant slalom winner, turned in a solid second run, but Brignone was ultimately too good for anyone to challenge today. Speed specialist Lara Gut (SUI) also had a good day, taking fourth place and picking up valuable early World Cup points.
"It was a gorgeous day, the surface was really rough solid and very fair one," said Shiffrin. "I felt good with my skiing and I'm happy about that."
"The last couple of days, I was really nervous, kind of freezing in my skiing," the 20-year-old added. "But this morning I got up and I told my self to go and have fun on the hill, try to charge and not let the hill take control of me. But of course Federica nailed it."
It was a picture perfect start to the season as the athletes were welcomed to the first race with ideal snow conditions and blue skies. After two straight days of press conferences, the athletes were more than ready to show off their skills on the slope.
Tomorrow, the men will take centre stage in their season debut when the giant slalom kicks off at 9:30 CET. All eyes are sure to be on defending World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher (AUT) as he looks to start the season strong on home turf.
For full results of the day click here.