Brignone wins combined title as World Cup finish is in doubt

Sports

A view of the course after an alpine ski, women’s World Cup combined was canceled following a heavy snowfall, in La Thuile, Italy, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

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LA THUILE, Italy (AP) — Federica Brignone has won the Alpine combined World Cup title on Sunday without clicking into her skis.

And the Italian might end up winning the overall and giant slalom globes as well without any further racing this season.

Heavy snowfall caused the cancellation of the Alpine combined race on Sunday, reducing the number of races left for the season to seven — in Sweden and Italy.

However, the international ski federation said it was yet unclear whether those races could go on amid health concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.

FIS women’s race director Peter Gerdol said “we need to monitor the overall situation, the WHO directives, the local health authorities that will then advise and inform us if these races will be possible or not.”

FIS said Sunday’s event could not be staged “due to heavy snowfall and the huge amount of snow on the course,” adding that the race will not be rescheduled.

The cancellation handed the season title to Brignone, who won both combined races that took place this season.

“When I heard the news of the cancellation at breakfast, I felt an incredible emotion,” Brignone said in a statement released by the Italian ski federation.

“I don’t hide the fact that today I shed a few tears of happiness,” the Italian said after winning the first crystal globe of her career.

Next week’s GS and slalom in Ofterschwang had already been called off because of a lack of snow at the German venue, sending the women’s World Cup into an 11-day break until a parallel slalom in Are, Sweden on March 12.

The resort was also set to host a GS and a slalom before the circuit was scheduled to return to Italy for the season-ending World Cup Finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, with one final race in each of the four disciplines.

“This week the snow control will take place in both Are and Cortina so from the snow perspective it should be OK in both ski resorts, in both areas, to have those races,” Gerdol said.

After finishing second in a super-G won by Nina Ortlieb of Austria on Saturday, Brignone leads the overall World Cup standings with 1,378 points.

The Italian is 153 points ahead of three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin. However, the timing of the American’s return to the World Cup remains unknown as she takes a break from racing following the death of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, four weeks ago.

Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, who is leading the slalom and the parallel standings, is third in the overall ranking, trailing Brignone by 189 points.

Brignone could become the first Italian overall winner in the 53-year-history of the women’s World Cup.

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