Eva-Maria Brem wins giant slalom, Lara Gut takes overall lead
'Today I came closer to the dream of winning the small globe'
Eva-MariaBrem won the second-last giant slalom of the women's World Cup season on Monday in Slovakia, putting her closer to her goal of earning the most points — and the small globe trophy — in that discipline.
Brem extended her lead in the GS standings to 52 points over Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, her only remaining challenger.
The Austrian skier will wrap up the title if she finishes fourth or better in the last GS at the World Cup finals in St. Moritz on March 20.
"This is a huge relief," said Brem, who held on to her commanding first-run lead in Monday's race to beat Rebensburg by 0.27 seconds, and Federica Brignone of Italy by 0.52.
"I did what I had to do in the second run, not more and not less," Brem said. "Today I came closer to the dream of winning the small globe." (The winner of each discipline takes home a 3.2-kilogram trophy; the overall winner's trophy weighs 7.4 kilograms.)
Marie-Michele Gagnon was the top Canadian, finishing 1.32 seconds behind Brem. Toronto's Candice Crawford finished 23rd, while Erin Mielzynski did not qualify for the second run.
Brem's Austrian teammate Anna Fenninger won the GS title the past two seasons. The two-time overall champion is sitting out this season following knee surgery in October.
In light snowfall, Brem positioned herself for her third career victory by finishing the first run 0.77 seconds ahead of Gut with the rest of the field more than a second off the pace.
Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic champion, was 1.96 behind in 12th after the opening leg but put in a blistering second run to climb to second and keep the fight for the GS title open.
"I wanted to get the maximum out of the second run," said Rebensburg, who won the GS title in 2011 and 2012. "Eva-Maria is the deserved winner. It remains tight. She was making a huge step today. But if she makes a mistake [in St. Moritz], I'll be there to take my chance. It remains interesting until the last run of the season."
Rebensburg said she was slowed in the opening run as the setup of her equipment wasn't good for the snow conditions on the Lukova course.
"I am a bit disappointed we couldn't get it right for the first run. Better not to think about what could have happened," the German said.
Lara Gut leader in overall standings
While the GS championship remains open until the final day of World Cup skiing, the chase for this season's overall title seems to be decided.
Earning 50 points for coming fourth, Switzerland's Lara Gut overtook Lindsey Vonn at the top of the overall standings. The four-time champion from the United States ended her season last week because of a left knee injury.
With Rebensburg 263 points back in third, Gut has now all but secured her first big Crystal Globe.
Although she'll compete in five more races this season, Rebensburg acknowledged the overall title wasn't really an issue for her.
"I don't even know the exact difference in points," the German said. "Lara is skiing very well at top level. Only if she makes mistakes, there could be a chance."
Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the slalom in Jasna on Sunday, was 1.84 behind in 14th in the American's first GS since returning from a knee injury last month.
"Some of my training days have been really good," said Shiffrin, adding she struggled with the timing of her turns in the GS. "I don't have a lot of time on the [GS] skis and I don't feel comfortable with my timing at all."
The first run was briefly interrupted after Michaela Kirchgasser crashed into the safety netting. The Austrian said her left knee hurt, and that she planned to travel home for a medical check.
The GS was initially planned for Saturday but had to be rescheduled because of strong wind.
The women's World Cup continues with a super-G and a combined event in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, next weekend.
With files from CBC Sports