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Alpine Skiing Brignone, Federica Franz, Max Shiffrin, Mikaela

Skiing Roundup: Federica Brignone Wins Giant Slalom; Mikaela Shiffrin Is Fourth

Three months ago, Federica Brignone was on crutches after hurting her left knee in a training crash. It didn’t take her long to get back up to speed.

Brignone, of Italy, won a giant slalom for her ninth career World Cup victory Saturday in Killington, Vt., with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States taking fourth.

On a windy afternoon, Brignone mastered the course in 1 minute, 51.33 seconds to beat the first-run leader, Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, by 0.49 seconds. Stephanie Brunner of Austria took third for her first career World Cup podium finish.

Brignone made a slight mistake on the course and thought she no longer had a chance to win. Seeing her name at the top after crossing the finish line caught her by surprise.

“Unexpected for sure,” Brignone said. “Because I had that big mistake. It’s always like, ‘Yes, I did it!’ ”

It was another splendid performance for Brignone, who took second at last month’s season-opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria. In August, she hurt one of the ligaments in her knee but avoided serious damage. She returned to the slopes after missing a few weeks, including some work at the United State ski team’s speed center in Copper Mountain, Colo.

After the victory, Brignone spent time signing as many autographs as she could for the youngsters in the crowd.

“I remember when I was a kid and going around to some races and wanted to get the autograph from the” winner,” she said. “So I tried to stop to each little guy or little girl that wanted my autograph and I hope I did it for everyone.”

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Mikaela Shriffin, two-time overall World Cup champion, came in fourth.CreditTom Pennington/Getty Images

Shiffrin, the reigning Olympic giant slalom champion, fell during a morning training session but was able to race. She was sixth after the opening run.

“I was happy with some of my skiing but I wasn’t happy with the intensity,” Shiffrin said. “Watching some of the other girls come down, they’re skiing like they want it.

“I want it, too, but I was enjoying it too much.”

Shiffrin, two-time overall World Cup champion, was more aggressive on her final run.

“It wasn’t quite enough,” she said.

Of her first World Cup podium, Brunner described her emotions as “crazy.” She said competing before so many fans made her feel as if she were racing in Austria.

“It’s amazing,” Brunner said.

Mowinckel said she appreciated the snow quality at Killington.

“You can feel kind of invincible when you ski here,” said Mowinckel, who earned two silver medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics. “The snow responds so well.”

Shiffrin will try to win a third straight World Cup slalom race at Killington on Sunday. She captured the opening World Cup slalom of the season last weekend in Levi, Finland, and received a reindeer as a prize.

Max Franz of Austria was first on the course in Lake Louise, Alberta, and his time held up for the victory.CreditSergei Belski/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

AUSTRIAN WINS MEN’S DOWNHILL Being the first one to take the course, Max Franz of Austria had no idea if his run was particularly fast or worthy of the podium.

He watched and watched as racers tried to match his time. No one did.

Leading off, Franz turned in a blistering time to win the season-opening World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Franz finished in 1:46.18 to hold off Christof Innerhofer of Italy by 0.28 seconds. Dominik Paris of Italy was third, 0.54 seconds back.

In recent weeks, Franz has been dealing with a knee issue. Coming into Lake Louise, he was unsure how it would hold up.

“I had a really good run,” Franz said. “But I made a little bit of a mistake. It looks like it was a good line.”

Franz said the weather slightly changed, with the wind picking up near the top of the course.

“I had the luck on my side today,” he said. “It’s a really great day.”

This was the second career World Cup win for Franz, 29. He also won a downhill race in Italy nearly two years ago.

Innerhofer knew he had the speed to be on the podium after turning in the top time during Wednesday’s training session.

Racing second, he was on pace to top Franz before losing time near the bottom.

“I knew my run was not bad and hoped for top 10,” Innerhofer said. “Everyone says I’m the world champion in the training runs. Now I say it’s time to go up in the race, too.”

Steven Nyman of the United States finished 11th, a spot ahead of his teammate Bryce Bennett.

A super-G is set for Sunday in Lake Louise before the men head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for super-G, downhill and giant slalom races.

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