Brignone wins alpine combined at Crans-Montana to top World Cup overall standings
Italian moves ahead of absent Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova remains 3rd in trophy hunt
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 favoured 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 unclear
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 favours 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.
Roni Remme top Canadian
Canada's Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., and Marie-Michèle Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., finished 7th and 15th respectively.
"I really wanted to go today, to ski with more confidence and take some risks. I was really happy with some of my super G skiing, but the high risk caught up with me at the bottom where I lost a lot of time. I would have liked to have less of a deficit to cover in the slalom, but as it was I knew I had to really send it down. With major mistakes in both runs I can't reasonably expect to hit the podium, so I'm happy about my 7th place, but I know that the podium is within reach." said Remme.