Slovenian skier Slokar wins parallel event for 1st World Cup

LECH-ZÜRS, Austria (AP) — Slovenian skier Andreja Slokar won the only women’s World Cup parallel race of the season Saturday, edging Thea Louise Stjernesund of Norway in the final of the floodlit event.

Slokar lost the first run of the final in dense snowfall but beat Stjernesund in the decisive heat to win by .05 of a second on aggregate.

It was the first career win for Slokar, whose previous best result was eighth from the season-ending slalom in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in March.

“For sure, it’s not the same as winning slalom or giant slalom, but I enjoyed it. It’s nice. It was a great experience,” Slokar said, adding that she hadn’t expected to win.

“I’m really enjoying skiing parallel, even if I don’t train it much. It’s fun, I like to compete when I have someone I can see next to me.”

Stjernesund’s Norwegian teammate, Kristin Lysdahl, beat world champion Marta Bassino of Italy by 0.1 in the duel for third place.

Pre-race favorites Lara Gut-Behrami, who had her 300th career World Cup start, and Katharina Liensberger, who shared the world title with Bassino in February, both failed to finish their second run in the round of the last 16.

Many of the leading giant slalom skiers sat out the event, including Mikaela Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova and Federica Brignone, who all preferred training for upcoming races. Recovered from a back issue, Shiffrin was planning to race at two slaloms in Levi, Finland, next weekend.

Parallel racing is part of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but only as a team event.

The parallel race had a knockout format as two competitors raced side-by-side on identical, shortened giant slalom courses, with run times just over 24 seconds.

All rounds were contested over two legs, with skiers having one run on each course and the shortest aggregate time determining the winner.

To keep the event within a TV friendly time frame, only 16 starters were allowed. A qualification competition in the morning hours reduced the initial starter field of 46.

Eventual finalists Stjernesund and Slokar qualified in first and second positions.

None of the three American starters in the parallel event qualified for the main race.

AJ Hurt and Nina O’Brien finished outside the top 16, while Paula Moltzan, who finished a career-best second last year, crashed after being distracted by a malfunctioning start gate in her second run against Bassino.

The door of the start gate on Moltzan’s red course didn’t open when the light turned green. She was allowed a solo rerun but had a mistake on her inside ski near the end of her run, tumbled over and slid into the safety boarding.

The same issue with the start gate happened to two more racers: Stephanie Brunner and Maria Therese Tviberg, who were also allowed a rerun. Only Brunner managed to qualify for the main event.

Organizers installed a new door in the start gate before the main race.

The men’s race is scheduled for Sunday.

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More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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