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Moelgg leads WCup GS ahead of Shiffrin, Vonn misses 2nd run

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) – Italian veteran Manuela Moelgg led the season-opening women’s World Cup giant slalom after the first run on Saturday ahead of overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin, while Lindsey Vonn failed to qualify for the second leg.

Moelgg finished in 55.57 seconds on the Rettenbach glacier. The 34-year-old Italian could become the oldest winner of a GS in the 51-year history of the women’s World Cup.

Shiffrin finished 0.12 behind after a strong finish to a rather conservative run.

Italy’s Manuela Moelgg speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

“I know I can ski cleaner than that and be more simple,” the American said. “I was excited for that run, I didn’t feel extremely nervous. I sometimes did too much almost, so I can just let my skis go a little bit more. I just can relax more and let the good skiing come out.”

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was 0.33 back in third, while World Cup GS champion Tessa Worley of France was left with 0.64 to make up in the second run.

Last year’s winner Lara Gut of Switzerland, who made an early comeback from knee injury, was among three racers out of the top seven who failed to finish. Italians Marta Bassino and Sofia Goggia also skied out.

Due to strong winds in the upper part of the course, organizers lowered the start.

“To be honest, I really didn’t notice (the wind) that much,” Shiffrin said. “Some other girls are getting a bit wind in the front or behind, and it is changing the tempo of the course.”

The conditions hampered Vonn in her first GS in nearly two years. The four-time overall champion struggled for rhythm throughout her run and came 3.31 off the pace in 34th.

“It’s an awkward set. It had rhythm for three gates, than it was a kind of quick chicane to three gates,” Vonn said. “I just didn’t push myself enough. I was kind of too conservative where I could have let it go. But it was nice to get started.”

Vonn only decided a week ago to fly out to Europe and start in the season-opening race although giant slalom is not a main discipline for her anymore.

Despite lacking sufficient GS training days, she expected to score points in order to improve her starting position for the Olympic GS in Pyeongchang in February.

“Obviously I wanted to better today, but I skied solid and I am healthy,” she said. “I was wishing to get some points but that’s life.”

United States' Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

United States’ Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

United States' Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

United States’ Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

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