Marta Bassino takes World Cup season opener at Soelden

Bassino wins giant slalom from last year's overall World Cup winner Federica Brignone for an Italy 1-2 with Petra Vlhova third.

By Ken Browne / Rory Jiwani

Marta Bassino won the first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup race of the season in Soelden, Austria on Saturday (17 October).

The 24-year-old Italian claimed her second World Cup giant slalom victory by 0.14s from team-mate Federica Brignone with Slovakia's Petra Vlhova taking the last spot on the podium.

Brignone won last year's giant slalom and overall World Cup series titles.

“I was skiing very well in training, so I tried to ski as in training also today,” Bassino said in the finish zone, “it came naturally, and that’s why I’m so proud.”

With fog and snowfall making for poor visibility, particularly in the first run, it was the two Italians who adapted best.

Bassino led by a massive 0.58s after the first descent before holding on for victory, with Vlhova clocking the quickest time on run two to rise from 10th to third.

It was a distinctly quiet affair in Austria's Ötztal Valley with just 200 guests watching the action rather than the 15,000-crowd with cowbells usually in attendance.

There was no Mikaela Shiffrin, who missed the season opener due to a back injury.

Soelden giant slalom podium (L-R): runner-up Federica Brignone, winner Marta Bassino, third-placed Petra Vlhova

Italians dominate Soelden curtain raiser

Bassino and Brignone were one and two after the first run and that's how they finished.

Norway's Mina Fuerst Holtmann was the only other skier within a second of Bassino on the first run, but was only 13th on her second descent and finished fifth.

Big things were expected of 18-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson who stunned Shiffrin to take victory in Soelden 12 months ago.

She was tied for fourth after the first run, 1.18s behind Bassino, but struggled on the second to finish down in 12th place.

Earlier this week, she told Olympic Channel about her preparations for the new season with her coaches unable to enter New Zealand during lockdown.

Switzerland's Michelle Gisin clocked the same as Robinson on the first run and finished fourth on the day, 0.17s outside the podium spots.

It was a day to celebrate for fans everywhere, when winner Bassino was asked how she feels now that skiing is finally back, she said, "fantastic, finally the season starts and it’s amazing for the entire world."

The men's opener comes tomorrow, Sunday 18th October.

Marta Bassino on her way to victory in the World Cup Women's Giant Slalom in Soelden, Austria