ÅRE, Sweden — Slovakian skier Petra Vlhová posted the fastest time in the opening run of a women’s World Cup giant slalom Friday, giving herself a chance to narrow the gap on leader Mikaela Shiffrin in the overall standings.
Shiffrin clocked the sixth-fastest time, 0.79 seconds behind Vlhová. The American leads her Slovakian rival by 117 points in the overall standings with six races left this season.
All three Americans that started the race qualified for a second run. Paula Moltzan finished the first run in 18th and AJ Hurt was behind her in 28th.
Vlhová dealt best with soft snow conditions on an untypically warm day in central Sweden and seemed headed for a big lead. However, she lost about seven-tenths of a second following a mistake in the flat section before the finish.
Returning to the venue of her 2019 world giant slalom title, Vlhová bounced back from skiing out in the opening run of a GS in Switzerland last weekend, allowing Shiffrin to increase her overall lead with a fourth-place finish.
Marta Bassino, who dominated the discipline last season, was 0.03 seconds behind, followed by Sara Hector. The Swedish leader of the GS standings had 0.29 to make up on Vlhová in the second leg.
Hector was on the podium in each of the last six giant slaloms while winning three of them. She can lock up the discipline title if she increases her lead of 55 points over Tessa Worley to at least 100 points. The two-time world GS champion from France was fifth after the opening run.
Federica Brignone hooked a gate with her left arm near the end of her run and failed to finish. The 2020 overall champion from Italy secured the super-G season title last weekend.
The second run starts at 6 p.m. on a floodlit course, which is rather unusual for a giant slalom.