ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – Tessa Worley regained her giant slalom title at the world ski championships on Thursday, holding off hard-charging Mikaela Shiffrin to take gold.
Worley, the 2013 champion, finished 0.34 seconds ahead of Shiffrin, who was fastest in the second run as warm sunshine softened the snow.
Soffia Goggia of Italy took bronze, 0.74 behind, four days after being in tears when losing her shot at the downhill title with a big mistake near the finish.
Shiffrin was third-fastest in the morning run. She then used downhill-style skills to be quicker than anyone on the relatively flat final slope.
“I was really going for it and I was happy with that fight,” Shiffrin said.
The silver was the first medal in giant slalom for the 21-year-old American, who will start as the favorite for her third straight slalom world title on Saturday.
“Who knew?” Shiffrin said. “I’ve always known I could ski fast in GS. It’s taken a while to actually put that out there.”
Worley now has two golds in St. Moritz, after helping France win the team event on Tuesday.
“Today the pressure was bigger, but I did it. I’m so proud,” said the 27-year-old champion, the first-run leader who had a 0.48 gap on Goggia and two-tenths more on Shiffrin. “It seems a lot but it really isn’t.”
Worley and Shiffrin have been the dominant giant slalom skiers this season. The Frenchwoman leads 3-2 in World Cup wins, was runner-up in both of Shiffrin’s victories and tops the season-long standings.
Shiffrin’s silver doubled the American team’s medal tally – adding to Lindsey Vonn’s bronze in downhill – after eight events. The host Swiss team leads with six medals, three of them gold.
“Everyone wants to see medals of course, but that is part of the game,” said Shiffrin, who is unbeaten in slalom at major championships, including the 2014 Olympics.
“I’m no stranger to feeling like the favorite or the person that is supposed to deliver the medal,” the American said. “I kind of feel like some of the pressure is off because I got a medal now.”
The flamboyant Goggia is having a breakout season and her 10th podium finish, after nine in World Cup races, got her a first career medal and the first for her country in St. Moritz.
In Sunday’s downhill, the 24-year-old Italian needed an agile recovery to finish but was still 0.07 behind Vonn in fourth.
Goggia edged teammate Federica Brignone out of the medals on Thursday.
“I can feel her pain because I was in pain from my downhill,” said Goggia, who pledged to give her anti-doping sample and then drink champagne “until midnight.”
The podium followed many predictions in a discipline that lost some of its best skiers.
Olympic champion Tina Maze of Slovenia has retired, while season-ending leg injuries removed World Cup champion Eva-Maria Brem of Austria and Swiss contender Lara Gut from a race that had 98 starters.
Defending world champion Anna Vieth, the Olympic silver medalist from Austria, is far from her best just weeks into a comeback from knee surgery and trailed Worley by more than three seconds.