LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — Wendy Holdener won a World Cup combined race by a big margin on Friday and set herself up as the favorite for the Olympic gold medal next month.
First-run leader Lindsey Vonn led Holdener by 0.71 seconds after the opening super-G, but dropped back to finish fourth in a rare slalom run for the American star.
Holdener, a Swiss slalom specialist, beat Marta Bassino of Italy by 1.55 seconds. Third-place Ana Bucik of Slovenia, who was 30th-fastest in the opening speed run, was 1.56 seconds behind.
Chasing her 80th World Cup race victory, Vonn ended 1.88 back and shrugged her shoulders as home fans cheered to acclaim the winner.
Holdener’s third career World Cup win was her first top-level victory since taking gold in combined at the 2017 world championships in nearby St. Moritz.
Mikaela Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader, skipped Friday’s race to focus on scheduled weekend events in giant slalom and slalom.
The combined replaced one abandoned in December because of poor weather, also at St. Moritz.
In the original race seven weeks ago, an opening slalom run left Vonn with little chance of victory after placing 25th, 3.33 seconds behind Shiffrin. Holdener was poised in second that day.
The Pyeongchang Olympic title in Alpine combined on Feb. 23 could yet be a Shiffrin-Holdener duel to follow their rivalry in slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 14.
Still, Vonn shapes as a contender for a combined medal having finished fifth in the worlds last year, less than a half-second from the podium.