BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Austria's Anna Fenninger had the fastest opening leg of the women's giant slalom at the alpine ski world championships on Thursday, while Slovenia's Tina Maze set herself up for a fourth medal.
Fenninger, who already won gold in the Super-G and silver in the downhill, enjoyed a sizzling opening run of one minute, 8.98 seconds, according to unofficial results.
That left her a daunting 0.81 seconds ahead of compatriot Michaela Kirchgasser and .90 seconds clear of Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby.
Maze, who is bidding to join Norway's Lasse Kjus as the only skier to medal in all five alpine disciplines at a single world championships, kept her bid for ski racing history on track with the fourth best effort of 1:10.08.
American hopefuls Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn both had disappointing runs finishing well outside the top 10.
With boyfriend Tiger Woods watching from the finish area, Vonn, the most successful women's skier of all-time, charged out of the start to a loud ovation but could get no closer than 2.67 seconds to the leader.
World and Olympic slalom champion Shiffrin was 1.72 seconds back of Fenninger and will need something special from her second leg if she is to land a podium.
Austrian Eva-Maria Brem, the World Cup leader in the discipline, saw her medal bid come to an abrupt end when she missed a gate early in her run and was disqualified.
Editing by Frank Pingue