COURCHEVEL – Mikaela Shiffrin increased her lead over Petra Vlhová in a close race for the overall title by winning the downhill on Wednesday at the World Cup Finals.
Shiffrin had barely raced downhill this season — two World Cup events in December and then last month's Beijing Olympics. Her best result was 18th.
The American put down a clean run on the new Eclipse course to earn the victory and 100 World Cup points. Vlhová finished out of the scoring places in 16th.
After seeing her time in the finish area, Shiffrin put her right hand to her mouth in disbelief. Her 74th career victory in the World Cup was only her third in downhill.
Shiffrin's boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, watched nearby and punched the air with both fists before greeting her with a hug and kiss.
Shiffrin is looking for a fourth career overall title. She now leads Vlhová by 156 points with only three races left this week.
She will be favored to pad her lead Thursday — and maybe even secure the overall title — when the other speed discipline, the super-G, is raced.
“Good job! A good day,” Kilde told Shiffrin shortly after he had clinched the season-long 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 only 19th. It was the Italian's third career downhill trophy.
The course seemed to suit Shiffrin. It used the flatter, more technical lower sections of the Eclipse hill than the longer course raced by the men, 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 place. Even Lara Gut-Behrami in fifth place was only 0.16 seconds behind.
Vlhová was only 0.78 slower than Shiffrin on the 2.3-kilometer (1.4-mile) course but that left her outside the points. Only the top 15 finishers score at the World Cup Finals.
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