French skier Tessa Worley wins giant slalom gold in St Moritz

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France's Tessa Worley celebrates after winning her fourth world ski title durin the giant slalom in St Moritz, on February 16, 2017

France's Tessa Worley produced two classy runs to claim gold in the women's giant slalom at the World Ski Championships in St Moritz on Thursday.

Worley, who also won world gold in this event in Schladming in 2013, enjoyed a 0.38sec lead over the field after the first run and held her nerve on the second for a combined time of 2min 05.55sec.

American Mikaela Shiffrin, the double defending slalom champion, won silver, at 0.34sec, with Italian Sofia Goggia taking bronze (+0.74sec) after a thus-far frustrating time in the eastern Swiss resort.

"It's something that I was waiting for more than 2013 maybe, so the pressure was pretty high before the second run," Worley said.

"But I managed to get to the end, I'm so, so happy."

Worley admitted to further nerves over an error high up a Corviglia course basking in bright sunshine that saw snow rapidly melting on the second run.

"Just a small mistake like this could be fatal," the 27-year-old acknowledged. "I tried to tell myself 'ok, now push harder and try to ski like I used to down the whole run'."

Worley, born to an Australian father and French mother, joins an elite band of racers to have won two giant slalom golds -- only Anja Paerson, Deborah Compagnoni, Mariele Goitschel and Vreni Schneider having previously achieved the feat. Worley also won world giant slalom bronze in 2011 in Garmisch.

- Fourth world gold -

Her victory takes her world gold medal haul to four, the French skier having twice been part of the winning squad in the team event, this week in St Moritz and also in 2011.

She now stands alongside Emile Allias (four) and behind just Goitschel (seven) and Jean-Claude Killy (six) in the pantheon of French skiers with most world titles.

Shiffrin's silver, after the fastest second run thanks to a very strong bottom section, bodes well for Saturday's slalom in which she will start as outright favourite to claim a third consecutive title.

"It's the first time I've made it to the finish in a giant slalom in St Moritz!" said Shiffrin.

"I was really happy with my skiing, especially the second run. The first run I felt like I left something on the hill but I had a chance to improve that and I'm psyched with that.

"It's really great to compete in the giant slalom. It's a real bummer Lara Gut, one of the best skiers, is out right now and Anna Veith, reigning world champion, is not quite back to full form yet, but it's cool to compete with Tessa, she's really strong and that's great competition."

Defending champion Veith of Austria finished well off the pace, at 3.16sec, while teammate Bernadette Schild was left kicking herself over a massive mistake coming into the bottom section when leading by 0.63sec, eventually finishing 17th (+2.71).

"When you come to the finish and it's not what you expect, it's tough," said Veith, who under her maiden name of Fenninger won the 2014 and 2015 overall World Cup titles before sustaining a season-ending knee injury last season.

"One year ago it was much more difficult, but I'm happy to say that I'm healthy again and can ski, and ski fast!"