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Lara Gut-Behrami wins a super-G to pad lead over Mikaela Shiffrin in overall World Cup standings

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KVITFJELL, Norway (AP) — Swiss ski star Lara Gut-Behrami is gliding toward the overall World Cup title in the extended absence of defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin since a crash in January.

Gut-Behrami won a super-G race Saturday to earn 100 race points and pad her lead to 305 over Shiffrin, who should return next weekend with six races left this season.

That lead is likely to grow Sunday when Gut-Behrami, the Olympic champion, starts as the favorite for another super-G on the course that staged speed races at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games.

Her 45th career World Cup win also was the eighth this season making it the most prolific in a long career for the 2016 overall World Cup champion.

“It’s amazing,” Gut-Behrami said. “I never expected to be ski racing at 32 and to be that consistent is something great. Working hard pays out.”

Though Gut-Behrami lost time in the foggy upper section Saturday, she sped down the tricky second half and on seeing her leading time punched both fists down by her sides in satisfaction.

She then had to watch the next two racers — Austrian teammates Mirjam Puchner and Cornelia Huetter — take big leads at time checks in the top half that melted away toward the finish.

Huetter finished 0.12 seconds back and Puchner trailed Gut-Behrami by 0.13 in third place having led by 0.81 approaching halfway.

“I lost the (racing) line in the last part,” Puchner said. “But I’m really happy about this result.”

Gut-Behrami also leads by 25 points from Huetter in the season-long super-G standings and can clinch the crystal trophy Sunday with one race to spare. It would be her fifth career title in the discipline.

Shiffrin is due to return next Saturday in Are, Sweden for a giant slalom and slalom. The American star has a maximum six races left this season to chase a record-tying sixth career overall title.

Shiffrin was hurt in a Jan. 26 crash in a downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and sprained ligaments in her knee and leg.

Gut-Behrami won her first overall World Cup eight years ago and that span between titles would tie the achievement of Annemarie Moser-Pröll. The Austrian downhill great won her first overall title in 1971 and her record sixth in 1979.

Saturday’s race was the start of fond farewells for Ragnhild Mowinckel, the two-time Olympic silver medalist who this week announced she will end her career this month.

The 31-year-old Norwegian was paraded before her home fans with a marching drum band after a 12th-place finish, 1.34 behind Gut-Behrami.

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More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/alpine-skiing

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