Bassino leads Brignone for Italian 1-2 finish in season-opening giant slalom

Marta Bassino led Federica Brignone for an Italian 1-2 finish in the season-opening women’s World Cup giant slalom Saturday in Soelden, Austria.

Bassino held on to her first-run lead to beat her teammate and defending overall World Cup champion by 0.14 seconds.

Petra Vlhova posted the fastest second-run time and the Slovakian racer finished third, 1.13 behind Bassino.

Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin was 1.30 behind in fourth.

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Valérie Grenier of St. Isidore, Ont., was the top-finishing Canadian in 25th, 6.10 seconds behind Basso. It was the 23-year-old Grenier’s first race since February 2019 when she broke her right tibia (shinbone), fibula (calf bone) and ankle during a downhill training run in Are, Sweden. Grenier finished a career-best 11th in the GS at Soelden in 2018.

Two-time Olympian Marie-Michèle Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., and Toronto’s Candace Crawford did not qualify for the second run, placing 55th and 60th, respectively.

It was Bassino’s second career win, after triumphing in the GS in Killington, Vermont, last season.

The Soelden event was moved forward a week to avoid tourist crowds at the Austrian resort and no spectators were allowed as one of the precautionary health and safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race. The American, who won here in 2014, tweaked her back in training two weeks ago and opted to rest.

Shiffrin’s teammate Paula Moltzan, who started 62nd in only her second GS, was ranked 17th after the opening run and the American finished a career-best 10th.

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