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Brignone tops World Cup overall standings with combined win

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Federica Brignone now leads the World Cup overall standings ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin after winning an Alpine combined event on Sunday. By earning 100 World Cup points, Brignone opened a gap of 73 to three-time defending champion Shiffrin who has taken an extended break from racing after the death of her father in Colorado.

Brignone’s win for a fourth straight year in a combined event at Crans-Montana came with a little good fortune. Slalom specialist Petra Vlhova had been second-fastest in the morning super-G led by Brignone, and was poised to use her favored discipline to seize the lead when she surprisingly straddled a gate.

Vlhova would have risen to second behind Brignone in the World Cup standings, and relegated Shiffrin to third, had she stayed on course for an expected race win. “I think that I had a little luck also in the slalom because Petra was really skiing well,” Brignone said in an interview with Swiss television.

Brignone ended 0.92 seconds ahead of runner-up Franziska Gritsch of Austria, and 1.82 clear of third-placed Ester Ledecka, the double OIympic champion in skiing and snowboarding. Shiffrin’s return to the World Cup circuit is unclear with up to 12 points-scoring events left at five different venues until the season ends March 22 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Several races are in her specialist slalom and giant slalom disciplines.

The calendar favors Brignone next weekend, stopping at La Thuile in her home region of Italy for a super-G and another combined. Brignone is enjoying a career year at age 29 with personal season-bests of five wins and 10 podium finishes in the World Cup. Her 15th career World Cup win was her fifth in the combined event.

Gritsch’s career-best result was her second podium place this season in Switzerland. She was third in a parallel racing event at St. Moritz in December.

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