February 21, 2015

MARIBOR, Slovenia (AP) Giant slalom world champion Anna Fenninger used her 10th career World Cup victory to give the fight for the overall title new impetus.

The defending champion from Austria held on to her first-run lead to win a GS on Saturday, reducing her deficit to overall leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by 100 points to just 84, with 12 races left.

In front of her home crowd, Maze fell with only two gates left in the first leg. Lindsey Vonn also failed to finish the opening run when the American crashed into the safety netting but escaped any serious injury.

''I knew all the Slovenian fans wanted Tina to win but I was happy they also cheered for me,'' said Fenninger, who used a strong finish to her final run to edge Viktoria Rebensburg by 0.04 seconds. Fenninger and Rebensburg also placed 1-2 in GS at the worlds last week.

Fenninger was 0.47 behind at the final split time but gained half a second on the German to finish in a total time of 2 minutes, 24.50 seconds and.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein came 0.30 behind, and American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin was third after the opening run but dropped to fifth, 0.54 off the lead.

Fenninger overturned a 208-point deficit to Maria Hoefl-Riesch in the final races of last season, but wasn't expecting a similar scenario this time.

''Tina is good in every discipline,'' said Fenninger, who won't compete in Sunday's slalom on the same course. ''Tina has her next chance tomorrow. It's important that I focus on my own skiing and stay in good shape.''

The win saw Fenninger go top of the GS standings with 342 points, overtaking fellow Austrian Eva-Maria Brem, who finished 10th and has 296 points. Shiffrin remained in third with 271.

Vonn was the fastest starter in the first run and led Fenninger by 0.09 when the American slid off the course in a left turn with her skis coming off when she landed in the safety netting.

Vonn got up and smiled as she clicked her skis back on, but later looked in pain and limped as she was escorted out of the finish area by U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml.

''She hit her back on the B-net poles pretty hard but should be all good,'' Riml said after Vonn had a medical checkup, adding her surgically repaired right knee wasn't hurt either.

Vonn finished 14th at the world championships last week but it was her first World Cup GS since she won here in January 2013, shortly before suffering the knee injury that kept her away from the Sochi Olympics the following year.

Shiffrin failed to hold on to her third place from the opening run but still earned her fifth career top-5 finish in giant slalom.

''It's not too much of a disappointment, honestly,'' Shiffrin said. ''I made some good turns. I don't think I let the skis go quite soon enough but the rest of the course felt pretty good ... It takes me a little while to get up to speed so I have to work on that.''

Vonn and Shiffrin were the only Americans in the field of 60 starters. Julia Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic champion, skipped the event and said on her Facebook page she was going to make a mountain trek with friends in the Alps.

The course held up well despite days of warm weather with temperatures rising over 10 degrees Celsius (50 F), though rain was forecast ahead of Sunday's slalom.

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