Alpine skiing: Bassino, Liensberger and Faivre are first parallel champions

FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
Alpine Skiing - FIS Alpine World Ski Championships - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy - February 16, 2021 Italy's Marta Bassino celebrates winning the women's parallel REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

February 16, 2021

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Marta Bassino shared an historic women’s parallel gold with Austrian Katharina Liensberger at the Alpine skiing world championships on Tuesday, as hosts Italy celebrated their first medal since the competition began last Thursday.

Mathieu Faivre won France a first gold of the championships in the men’s event.

The events, in which pairs of racers compete alongside each other over two runs down parallel giant slalom pistes in a knockout format, were being held for the first time at championship level.

Croatia’s Filip Zubcic was the men’s silver medallist.

The bronze medals went to France’s Tessa Worley, the 2013 and 2017 giant slalom world champion who beat American Paula Moltzan in the battle for third, and Switzerland’s Loic Meillard respectively.

“Finally,” said Bassino. “We don’t have all the crowds, the public, but OK now I have a medal so I can think to the giant (slalom) without pressure and for now I am enjoying this moment.”

The races in the Italian Dolomites resort are being held without fans — lacking the gasps, cheers and cowbell-clanging atmosphere that usually accompanies big ski events — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bassino had knocked compatriot Federica Brignone out of the reckoning in the quarter-finals and saw off Worley in the semis for a shot at gold in the knowledge that she was sure of at least a silver.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, a co-host of the 2026 Winter Olympics, had been a rough ride for the home skiers who failed to medal in the first six races.

Bassino left it all to her second run, making up half a second on Liensberger to stop the clock with the times tied.

After some initial confusion, with previous heats decided in favour of those with the fastest second runs, the shared gold was confirmed.

“I was a little bit confused in the finish line, it showed just 0.00 and I didn’t know what was going on afterwards,” said Liensberger. “That we could be both at the top, that’s really amazing.”

Faivre was 0.23 quicker than Zubcic on his first run on the more rutted blue side and then made sure of the title after the switchover to the smoother red left him 0.48 clear.

“We know that the blue was tougher and slower, but I tried to push and go fast, because then we knew we’d be on the red and it would be nice to ski,” said Faivre.

The silver was Croatia’s first of the championships while Meillard’s medal was his second after bronze in Monday’s Combined.

Slovakia’s World Cup overall leader Petra Vlhova failed to qualify for the women’s final, a day after winning silver in the Combined.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, gold medallist in super-G and second in the World Cup overall standings, also missed out.

Austria’s Marco Schwarz was the big-name casualty on the men’s side, also failing to qualify after winning Combined gold on Monday.

The parallel action continues on Wednesday with a team event.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Christian Radnedge)