12 March 2020

Federica Brignone becomes first Italian overall champion but coronavirus halts fairytale return for Mikaela Shiffrin

Federica Brignone has become the first Italian female skier to win the overall title as this weekend's World Cup Åre event has been called off due to health concerns surrounding coronavirus.

The 29-year-old, who overtook Mikaela Shiffrin in the standings while the American took a break following her father's death in February, now finishes top as coronavirus concerns have forced the cancellation of the final two events.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova will win the slalom title while the American star finishes a close second.

Earlier in the season Petra Vlhova de-throned Shiffrin (left) for the first time since February 2019 with Katharina Liensberger in third (PA Images)

For Shiffrin, this is a heartbreaking cancellation after she had announced on Wednesday morning that she would make her return to the sport for the event in Åre.

Despite organisers initally making plans to still run the races behind closed doors, within hours Shiffrin's dreams of a sentimental return were quashed when news was broken that the event was off.

There had been a slim chance that Shiffrin could have defended her World Cup overall title and a good chance of retaining her slalom title despite her absence meaning she had slipped into second place in both standings.

But for the three-time overall champion, competing in Åre was about more than just the podium.

“I still have no real goals or expectations,” Shiffrin said in her social media post. “I just would like to try to race again before the end of the season.”

The resort is where Shiffrin claimed her first career win in 2012 and also her historic fourth straight slalon title in 2019.

"I have some wonderful memories with my dad here during the World Cup Finals and World Champs, so I've been looking forward to returning for these races," she wrote.

"I still have no real goals or expectations," she added. "I would just like to try and race again before the end of the season. I really appreciate people continuing to respect my need for space and privacy."

Shiffrin will now have to wait until next season to make her long-anticipated return to the sport.

Shiffrin is looking to make a return before focusing on results (PA Images)

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