SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) — Tessa Worley of France held a commanding lead after the first run of the women's giant slalom at the world skiing championships on Thursday.
Worley, a bronze medalist two years ago, opened with a flawless run on the Planai course and finished in 1 minute, 4.90 seconds. The course with a steep and icy finish is also being used for the men's races.
Austrian teammates Kathrin Zettel and Anna Fenninger, trailing by 0.52 and 0.85, respectively, were the only racers to finish within a second of Worley.
"The course was great and I had a great start number," said Worley, who holds seven World Cup victories in GS. "I wanted to show my best skiing."
Worley is chasing France's fourth medal of the worlds, after gold for Marion Rolland in downhill, silver for Gauthier de Tessieres in the super-G and bronze for David Poisson in the downhill.
"I am very happy with this first run but I am not thinking about what could happen today," Worley said.
If she holds on to her lead, France will earn its sixth gold medal in women's GS.
Zettel said her "run was quite OK. You need to have a good feeling coming down here, and I had it."
Defending champion Tina Maze of Slovenia was 1.09 behind in fourth.
Maze, who had already secured this season's World Cup GS title, started as a clear favorite after winning the super-G and earning silver in the super-combined last week.
Maze had to adjust her line shortly after the start and never looked comfortable as she struggled for rhythm.
In her first appearance at a major championship, American teen Mikaela Shiffrin shared fifth with Frida Hansdotter of Sweden, 1.65 behind.
Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg was 2.07 off the lead in 11th, and German teammate and former overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch was 0.37 further back in 14th.
Lindsey Vonn won the last World Cup GS before the worlds — in Maribor, Slovenia, in January — but the American has been ruled out for the season after knee surgery following her crash in the opening super-G race last week.