Eva-Maria Brem clinches giant slalom title at World Cup finals
Canada's Gagnon misses podium in 5th place
Eva-Maria Brem of Austria clinched the women's giant slalom title by the slenderest of margins at the World Cup finals on Sunday for her first-ever crystal globe.
Brem needed to finish fourth to win the title and did just that, edging Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon into fifth by 0.04 seconds to secure the trophy by only two points.
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, the only woman who could surpass Brem in the standings, finished first and faced an anxious wait to see what her rival would do.
Brem crossed the line and looked nervously over at the clock before putting her head in her hands. Rebensburg was the first to congratulate her.
Taina Barioz was second on the day, 0.46 behind Rebensburg. Overall champion Lara Gut was third, 0.75 off the pace.
Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States crashed on the opening run, while leading after the first split.
Brem was fastest in the opening run, 0.06 ahead of Barioz and 0.20 ahead of Gut. Rebensburg was 0.66 seconds slower.
Slalom specialist Shiffrin had the fastest time at the start, 0.76 ahead of Brem and 0.19 quicker than Gut, but spun out on a turn and slid down the course.
The 21-year-old Shiffrin, who missed two months off the season following a training crash in Sweden, was not injured.
"I tried to risk a little bit because in order to win GS races you have to risk, not necessarily go crazy but take some risk and push the line and push the gates so I tried to do that," Shiffrin told The Associated Press. "It was actually funny because the one gate that I fell on was the one gate that I kind of went back to my skiing where I'm a little tentative and I dive in too soon.
"So I was like, 'Yup, just keep moving in this direction because you're going to be better and faster and safer."'
Shiffrin won another slalom event by a huge margin Saturday with her closest rivals more than two seconds slower.
The Olympic champion is unbeaten in slalom racing since February 2015 but couldn't capture a fourth successive crystal globe in the discipline after missing five races because of her injury.
"[Yesterday] was an amazing day and, to be honest, after my skiing in Slovakia a couple of weeks ago I'd much rather ski 15 gates on a course the way I did today instead of the entire course slow and tentative," Shiffrin said.
"It's just sometimes how it goes and the more I can ski like that and take some risk in GS, the more experience I have and then I'm not going to make those mistakes anymore. I felt really good but it was almost like I was going faster than I expected because I haven't ever really skied that fast before and until I really get used to that I'm going to be a little bit iffy."