Shutting out the media buzz and focusing solely on her skiing was French racer Tessa Worley’s ticket to the giant slalom world title on Thursday.
The 23-year-old put in two dominant lead runs to finish with an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 8.06 seconds, a full 1.12 seconds ahead of Slovenian star Tina Maze, whose silver was her third medal of the world championships.
“It seems simple, but when you’re at an event like this one, you have everything that makes you think that you’re at the world championships, that there’s a medal at the end that you can maybe win,” Worley said. “There’s a big crowd, a lot of media. So I just wanted to think about skiing and not about everything that was around ... I just thought about it when I passed the finish line at the end and then I was very, very happy.”
Already leading by more than half a second after the first run, Worley kept her cool to blaze through her second outing on the Planai course in sunny, cold conditions.
Worley, who was born to a French mother and Australian father, and took home France’s fourth medal of these championships, also credited the course for giving her a good feeling during both runs.
“These are the conditions I like,” she said. “I love very hard and icy, but it was still not too extreme, so we could ski well enough to have a good sensation and go fast. Sometimes you have a race and have bad feelings. Today, it was pretty nice to ski on it. The slope was great.”
Topping the medals table with two golds, one silver and one bronze, France have had an extraordinary championships and Worley expressed her hope that her team’s success would further raise the sport’s profile at home.
“A lot of people are starting to follow us and with all the medals, people are watching, and following and supporting us even more. It’s great for us and we just want to keep going,” she said.
Maze, pocketing her third medal at the championships after super-G gold and super-combined silver, was beaming after securing second place, despite what she considered a bad first run.
“It’s a good day in the end. It was not an easy day,” said the unusually candid Slovenian, who usually makes winning look like a piece of cake. “It’s hard to keep this high level all the time ... every day it’s a new battle.”
Austrian Anna Fenninger, who had struggled last week against high expectations and pressure from the home public and media clamoring for medals, was visibly relieved by her bronze.
“It was a really difficult world championship. I’m just happy for today, it was my last chance for a medal,” said the 23-year-old, who had bagged a gold medal in the super-combined in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in 2011 as a relative unknown.