Alpine skiing-Brignone feeling less pressure ahead of home championships

Feb 3 (Reuters) - Italy’s overall World Cup champion Federica Brignone is expecting to feel less pressure at this month’s Alpine skiing world championships despite racing on home snow at Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The two-week championships, starting in the Italian resort on Monday, will be without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the world championships or Olympic Games are not easy for someone that is the best because the expectation is really high,” she said in an online appearance at the Global Sports Week forum.

“But right now I’m not the number one any more, so I think I will go to the world championship and be free to try to and give everything.”

The first Italian woman skier to win an overall World Cup crystal globe, Brignone is planning to compete in at least four disciplines -- super-G, combined, parallel giant slalom and giant slalom and maybe also slalom and downhill.

“Right now, I’m skiing good in training and the feeling is coming back,” she said.

“But...when I race I’m a little bit blocked. Maybe I care too much or I have too many expectations after last year.”

Brignone also won the giant slalom and combined World Cup globes last year, when the season was cut short due to COVID-19 and American Mikaela Shiffrin took time out after the death of her father.

The 30-year-old 2018 Olympic giant slalom bronze medallist has only one medal from a world championships -- a giant slalom silver in 2011.

She has had four podium finishes in the World Cup this season but has not won since a combined in Crans-Montana in February last year.

Brignone’s hopes of retaining the overall title have receded, with the Italian now sixth and 352 points behind leader Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)