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Italian skier Bassino takes 1st-run lead in GS, Shiffrin 4th

Marta Bassino posted the fastest time in the opening run of a women’s World Cup giant slalom on Saturday, positioning herself for a third win this season.

The Italian coped best with tough course conditions as she took a lead of 0.27 seconds over Michelle Gisin of Switzerland.

The rest of the field, led by Petra Vlhova in third and Mikaela Shiffrin in fourth, trailed by more than half a second.

Switzerland's Michelle Gisin speeds down the course of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP PhotoGiovanni Auletta)

Federica Brignone, who is the defending overall champion and leads the GS rankings, had more than a second to make up on teammate Bassino in the final run.

Moved from Maribor because of a lack of snow, the race took place at a resort which is an annual stop on the men’s circuit.

“It was really tough. It was really icy. The feeling wasn’t so good,” said Bassino, adding that applying pressure to her skis was the most difficult part.

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova speeds down the course of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMarco Trovati)

“It’s hard to push, because you feel the ski slide a little bit,” the Italian said.

Bassino won the first two giant slaloms this season before failing to finish the third, which was won by Shiffrin, in Courchevel, France in December.

That result marked the American three-time overall champion’s first win since returning from a 10-month break from racing in 2020.

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP PhotoGiovanni Auletta)

Shiffrin’s teammate Nina O’Brien, wearing bib No. 27, posted the seventh-fastest time.

Another American teammate, Paula Moltzan, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and was ruled out for both races this weekend.

The U.S. ski team said “ongoing testing” of its skiers and staff “resulted in no other positive cases.”

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