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French skier Direz wins parallel GS; Shiffrin out early

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP) — French skier Clara Direz claimed her first career victory in the debut of parallel giant slalom on the women’s World Cup circuit Sunday, while favorites Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova were both eliminated by the second round.

Direz, who had only one previous top-10 finish — seventh in a traditional giant slalom in Lienz, Austria, last month — in 40 previous World Cup races, beat newcomer Elisa Moerzinger of Austria in the final.

Moerzinger was competing in only her fifth World Cup race, having failed to qualify for the second run in four giant slaloms. Marta Bassino beat fellow Italian Federica Brignone — the co-winner of a traditional giant slalom Saturday — in the small final for third place.

Sofia Goggia, the Olympic downhill champion, finished fifth as the host Italians swept the third through fifth places. Shiffrin was eliminated by Direz in the second round of the direct knockout format while Vlhova was beaten in the first round by Aline Danioth of Switzerland.

Shiffrin pointed out that the red course that she lost on was slower than the adjacent blue course over the final four gates. “I don’t like to talk about luck playing a role — even yesterday, .01 out, I feel like that was in my control,” Shiffrin said of narrowly missing out on a victory a day earlier. “But these two courses are not the same at all.

“This event is still new and there are so many things to work out,” Shiffrin added. “But it is fun and people like to watch it. It’s just a work in progress to make it the best it can be.” Still, Shiffrin, who finished ninth, extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings to 249 points ahead of Vlhova; while Brignone is now only 11 points further back in third.

It was the fourth podium result this season for Bassino, including a victory at a GS in Killington, Vermont. “Maybe the blue course is a bit faster at the bottom but at the end of the day you need to go fast from top to bottom,” Bassino said.

While five parallel GS races have been contested on the men’s circuit — all in Alta Badia — this was the first time the event was held for women. Thirty-two skiers advanced to the main bracket after a two-run qualifying session.

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