ARE, Sweden (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener defended her women’s combined title with a strong slalom run at the Alpine skiing world championships on Friday.
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova took the silver medal, three hundredths of a second slower after hauling herself up from eighth after the downhill, with Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel completing the podium.
“Finally I could put two good runs together and bring home the victory,” said Holdener, who was fifth fastest in the downhill — shortened due to poor visibility and bad weather — before making up time on the technical slope.
“I love the downhill here in Are, I felt really confident,” added the Swiss, who won her first title on home snow in St Moritz in 2017.
“And then in slalom I just knew that I now have to bring it (home) and I’m really happy that I was a little bit before Petra,” added the 2018 Olympic team event gold medallist.
Austria’s Ramona Siebenhofer, winner of back-to-back World Cup downhills in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month, had been fastest in the downhill leg but she ended up fourth and four hundredths slower than Mowinckel.
Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, the 2017 downhill world champion who had gone into the slalom in second place, faded badly and finished 10th.
American Lindsey Vonn, who completed the first part as useful training for Sunday’s downhill, was in a group of eight speed specialists who opted not to take part in the following single slalom leg.
American Mikaela Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader who would have had a good chance of gold, had announced earlier that she would not compete in order to prepare for next week’s individual slaloms.
“It was OK. I was definitely really stiff out of the start,” Vonn, sporting a black eye from a crash on Tuesday, told Eurosport television after her run. “I’ve been having some rib problems, my rib’s out.
“From the first jump down it was pretty decent and it was a good test for me because this is obviously a race for the other girls and it’s good to see kind of where I stack up.”
“I have another gear left to go and I’m just going to rest tomorrow and be ready for Sunday,” added the 34-year-old.
Sunday’s downhill will be the final race of the former Olympic champion’s career after she announced her retirement last week.
The combined is set to be replaced at the next world championships by a parallel slalom.
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond, Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge