Tessa Worley has been threatening to win a major race for some time and yet the seven time World Cup race winner from France (with a hint of Australia) produced two devastating runs of Giant Slalom ski racing to win the Giant Slalom World Championship. Worley used the number 1 bib to the maximum effect to gain the upper hand on the rest of the large field of 139 starters. Tina Maze put in a great second run where she found the rhythm that she had lost on the first run to just edge out Anna Fenninger for the silver. Kathrin Zettel was fourth after having been in second place after the first run with Frida Hansdotter taking fifth.
Worley opened up a half second lead after the first run with the top seeds having the best of things. Worley lead from Zettel with Fenninger in third and Maze off the pace in fourth, over a second off the pace. Maze said after the race that she struggled with trying to find the rhythm for the first run. The more she tried to find the rhythm, the defending Champion and newly crowned World Cup GS Champion, the more she struggled, she admitted after the race.
With the top sixty racers making the cut for the second run, the quality of the field tailed off; it was however a surprise to see the likes of Denise Karbon, a past World Cup winner, just being bumped out of the top thirty for the second run and having to start after all the excitement of who had won the race had died down.
Russian Daria Astapenko from start number 50 was the racer that pushed the Italian out of the top thirty and she started off the second run. The Russian did a great final section and like Worley on the first run, used her early start to post a competitive time. The Russian moved up to 24th after the second run.
With tenth place after the first run being held by Lara Gut, she was over two seconds back from Worley. It would take a super human effort from the Swiss racer to try and recover some of the time. Gut pulled herself up to seventh after the second run just behind Mikaela Shiffrin who had been in fifth after the first run.
With so many racers in the race, some of the top racers felt that there were too many starters. Tina Maze felt that maybe they should have a qualification race, like the men do as the hill was particularly brutal: “Many of the top racers were finding the hill brutal and struggling,” the Slovenian said.
With Fenninger in the start gate it was Maze leading after a brilliant second run. The Slovenian had found the rhythm again for the second run and was after her third medal of the Championships. Maze was smiling in the finish but with having had to find over a second to get back in touch with Worley if she was going to win the Gold, this was a tall ask.
Fenninger extended her lead over the Slovenian at the first three splits yet when she crossed the finish line she had lost all her advantage plus six hundredths to go into the horrible position of being in second position with two racers to go. With her countrywoman up next the Austrians knew that they would have another medal no matter what. Zettel skied conservatively and paid the price as she dropped into third place with just Worley to go (plus the 31 – 60 finishers from the first run).
With Worley having taken the fastest first run time, she matched this by taking the fastest second run time as well to win her first World Championship. The Frenchwoman with an Australian father, who had also spent time in New Zealand, has trained all the disciplines this winter and is benefitting from the advantages of training and competing in the speed events as well as her favoured event, the Giant Slalom.
So Worley wins the race with Maze second and Fenninger taking third place.