ROSA KHUTOR – Federica Brignone won a women’s World Cup super-G after overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race on Sunday, strengthening her runner-up position in the standings.
The win left the Italian 270 points short of Shiffrin’s leading tally.
The American three-time overall champion decided to skip the races in the 2014 Olympic resort after winning the previous super-G and a downhill in Bulgaria a week ago.
With cloudy weather affecting visibility, Brignone overcame a mistake halfway down the course when she caught a bump and lost half a second.
She quickly rediscovered the ideal race line and won by 0.20 seconds ahead of her Italian teammate Sofia Goggia, who returned after missing the last two races with a right leg injury following a downhill crash.
“I had a big fault on the flats but I knew I could do well on the steep,” said Brignone, adding she didn't believe that the win boosted her chances in the overall standings.
“(Shiffrin) is so strong and wins so many points in the slalom, she is unreachable for the big globe,” Brignone said. “But I am very proud of myself this season. In super-G, in GS, in downhill, it's perfect for me.”
It was the fourth 1-2 finish for the Italian women’s team this Word Cup season.
“It was really a tough week after Bansko for me,” said runner-up Goggia, who wore a cast to protect her tibia.
“I am happy with my result but I think I didn’t ski that well,” she added.
Joana Haehlen of Switzerland finished 0.34 behind in third for her second career podium, a week after she also finished third in a downhill.
Her fourth-place Swiss teammate Corinne Suter was the only other skier to finish within a half-second of the winner.
Shiffrin, who won the super-G world title and discipline standings last year, was not the only top contender to sit out this weekend’s races, with Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and Italy’s Marta Bassino also refraining from traveling to Russia.
Brignone became the fourth different winner of a women’s super-G this season, after Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, Goggia and Shiffrin won the previous events. Rebensburg placed eighth on Sunday.
The victory sent Brignone top of the discipline standings, 16 points clear of Suter and 20 ahead of Shiffrin.
Shiffrin’s teammate Breezy Johnson crashed halfway through her run but the American got up and appeared unhurt. Johnson returned to the World Cup in January after a 16-month injury layoff.
The super-G was the first World Cup race here since the Sochi Olympics.
A downhill on Saturday was canceled after days of heavy snowfall affected the slope. The unfavorable weather had already wiped out all three training days this week.
Last season, when Shiffrin was also skipping the event, bad weather caused the cancellation of both races.
“Today it is very important for Sochi, for Russia,” Brignone said. "We have come here for two years but they have no luck with the weather. It’s good to have a race today.”
The women’s World Cup continues with another downhill and super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, next weekend.
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