United States' Mikaela Shiffrin skis during the first run of a women's World Cup giant slalom ski race Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
Nathan Bilow
March 19, 2017

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) Tessa Worley waved her ski pole at the finish and pumped her fist.

Rarely has not winning felt this rewarding.

The Frenchwoman clinched the season-long giant slalom title Sunday with a conservative run on a day Federica Brignone led an Italian sweep at the World Cup Finals.

''I just went for it, kept it simple,'' explained Worley, who finished fifth to edge American Mikaela Shiffrin by 85 points for her first crystal globe. ''I'm really, really happy with the season. Now, I have it.''

Brignone glided through the course in a combined time of 1 minute, 58.01 seconds to beat teammate Sofia Goggia by 1.44 seconds. Marta Bassino took third. Moments after her finish, Brignone, the first-run leader, tried to ski over to her Italian teammates, but struggled to gain any traction in the soft snow.

Finally, they shared an embrace. It's the first time the Italian women have swept the podium since 1996, according to information provided by the International Ski Federation. On that March day, Italian great Deborah Compagnoni led a dominating giant slalom performance in Norway.

''This is one of the best days of my life, being on the podium with two Italians,'' Brignone said. ''It was really, really fun. I didn't even know they were in front. I didn't know anything. I went down and gave it my best. When I saw I was in front, I didn't see the girls in second and third. Then I heard over the speaker - `Goggia' and `Bassino.' It was one of my biggest emotions.''

In the end, this was Worley's stage - or so she was hoping. That's why she wasn't racing Sunday so much to win as not make any major mistakes.

Worley entered the final race of the women's World Cup season with an 80-point lead over Shiffrin in the GS standings. Worley was cautious in the first run and turned it up just a notch in her final pass to sew up the discipline crown. Shiffrin struggled to uncover speed and wound up sixth.

''I'm not very satisfied,'' Shiffrin said. ''I felt like I had some really good turns but didn't take enough aggression when I really needed it. It's a bit of a bummer, but it's good motivation for next year.''

Shiffrin and Worley both won three giant slalom races this season. The 22-year-old Shiffrin already clinched the slalom and overall titles.

On Sunday, in front of an adoring Aspen crowd, Shiffrin was presented the crystal globe for the overall. She broke out in tears.

''It's hard to describe what I was thinking up there. I had no thoughts,'' said Shiffrin, who captured the overall by 318 points over Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia. ''That's when the emotion comes, when I'm not thinking. I don't always have that emotion.

''It's sort of sad it's over. ... There are so many emotional roller-coasters, that you just want to take a nap for three days straight.''

Next season, the Olympic slalom champion plans to add more speed races to her repertoire.

''My goal right now is to race in speed in the Olympics,'' Shiffrin said. ''I will still focus on my main events, but as I get older and more confident and stronger, I can add more speed.''

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