Sara Hector is quickly emerging as one of Mikaela Shiffrin’s biggest rivals at the Beijing Olympics.
Hector earned her second giant slalom World Cup win of the season on Saturday by posting the fastest times in both runs in a dominant performance on the difficult Podkoren course in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
The Swede was just 0.08 seconds ahead of former world champion Tessa Worley after the first run but pulled away with a blistering start to her second and finished 0.96 seconds clear.
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Worley was second while Shiffrin only finished seventh after a sub-par performance, more than two seconds back. The American, who returned to the circuit this week after testing positive for Covid-19, was only 14th after the first run.
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Hector had not won a World Cup race in seven years before beating Shiffrin in the GS race in Courchevel in December.
She only had to wait two weeks to climb atop the podium again.
"It’s unbelievable. I felt really good on the middle but then you never know," Hector said. "I felt like maybe I’m too round or something because it was just feeling easy. I’m just in shock. It feels so awesome.”
Petra Vlhova, Shiffrin’s main rival in the overall World Cup standings, also struggled and finished 15th.
Vlhova has been the only skier to challenge Shiffrin in slalom in recent years, but Hector could be the American’s biggest threat in GS going into the Beijing Games.
The Swede now tops the GS discipline standings with 362 points ahead of Shiffrin on 316.
"It just suddenly all works so good,” Hector said about her recent performances. "But we’ve been working hard for a long time.”
The race was initially scheduled to be held in Maribor but was moved to Kranjska Gora because of a lack of snow. No spectators were allowed along the course.
A women's slalom is scheduled for Sunday.
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