Marta Bassino says her hard work on the practice slopes is paying off after soaring to victory in the first women's Alpine Skiing World Cup Giant Slalom event of the season in Soelden.
The Italian star clocked a total time of 2:19.69 to reign supreme over compatriot Federica Brignone by 0.14s, while Slovakia's Petra Vlhova was third as she crossed the line in 2:20.82.
Bassino's first run time of 1:09.54 laid the foundations for her triumph and while Brignone pushed her close with a second run of 1:09.71, the 24-year-old held on to scoop her second World Cup race victory.
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"I was skiing very well in training, so I tried to ski as in training also today," she said. "It came naturally, and that's why I'm so proud."
Three-time overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin was absent in Soelden after tweaking her back, opening the door for her rivals to capitalise in the season curtain-raiser.
And Bassino got off to a flyer on the Austrian slopes while Vlhova, who was crowned Giant Slalom world champion last year, languished in 10th with a first run time of 1:11.56.
But a brilliant time of 1:09.26 in Run 2 hauled her onto the podium while Bassino, the 2014 junior world champion in the discipline, held onto her lead with a time 0.89s slower than her Slovakian rival.
Brignone stopped the clock in an impressive 1:09.71 in her second run but it was not enough to leapfrog Bassino, who got her World Cup season off to a perfect start in Soelden.
Swiss skier Michelle Gisin finished 0.17s off the podium in fourth, while Norwegian star Mina Fuerst Holtmann was fifth with a total time of 2:21.44.
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