COURCHEVEL, France (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin increased her lead over Petra Vlhová in a tight race for the overall title by winning relegation in the World Cup final on Wednesday.
Shiffrin had barely run downhill this season: two World Cup events in December and then the Beijing Olympics last month. His best result was 18.
The American rode a clean run on the new Eclipse course to take the win and 100 World Cup points. Vlhová finished outside the scoring places in 16th place.
After seeing his time in the goal area, Shiffrin put his right hand to his mouth in disbelief. His 74th career World Cup win was only his third downhill.
Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, watched from nearby and punched the air with both fists before greeting her with a hug and a kiss.
Shiffrin is seeking the fourth overall title of his career. He now leads Vlhová by 156 points with just three races remaining this week.
She will be the favorite to add to her lead on Thursday, and perhaps even secure the overall title, when she races the other speed discipline, super-G.
“Great job! Good day,” Kilde told Shiffrin shortly after he clinched the all-season World Cup downhill title by placing fourth in the men’s race.
The women’s title went to Sofia Goggia despite her 12th place finish. Goggia’s closest rival, Olympic champion Corinne Suter, finished in 19th place. It was the third relegation trophy of the Italian’s career.
The course seemed to suit Shiffrin. He used the flatter, more technical lower sections of the Eclipse hill than the longer course the men ran, proving to be a balanced race with few sections to find extra speed or make mistakes.
Shiffrin did just enough to finish 0.10 seconds faster than Christine Scheyer and Joana Haehlen, who tied for second. Even Lara Gut-Behrami in fifth place was just 0.16 seconds behind.
Vlhová was only 0.78 slower than Shiffrin over the 2.3-kilometre (1.4-mile) course, but that kept her out of the points. Only the top 15 finishers score points in the World Cup finals.
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