PYEONGCHANG, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Manuela Moelgg set the pace in the first run of the giant slalom on Thursday, the Italian edging out American Mikaela Shiffrin as the women’s Alpine skiing events finally got under way in Pyeongchang.
After three days of high winds had forced the postponement of the giant slalom from Monday and the regular slalom on Wednesday, conditions were ideal at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre, with bright sunshine and perfect snow.
Moelgg, out first, made a moderate start but picked up speed as she navigated the 49 gates in a smooth, error-free run to cross the line in one minute, 10.62 seconds.
“It was not so easy but I had a good run,” she told Reuters. “I have three podiums this season and I know I can ski fast, so it’s great that it has come at this moment, in the Olympic Games.”
Shiffrin, the seventh to go, was ahead of the Italian at the first two intermediate time checks but had slipped behind by the third, eventually finishing 0.20 seconds adrift, with Italy’s Federica Brignone a further 0.09 back.
“I was loose, I put some of my good skiing from training in there but I also feel like I can go a little bit harder and there’s nothing to hold back for in the second run,” Shiffrin said.
“That’s the nice thing about the Olympics, you don’t hold back.”
The 22-year-old, who is likely to compete in at least four events, expressed relief that she was finally competing on the snow.
“Last night I was, like, are we ever going to race?” she said.
Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel and Italy’s Marta Bassino were fourth and fifth respectively, while Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, the current World Cup leader, was 0.83 seconds behind Moelgg in eighth place.
Switzerland’s Lara Gut was among several skiers to wipe out, slamming dramatically into a group of photographers at the side of the course, but no one appeared to be hurt. (Additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by John O’Brien)