Overall ski champion Vlhova hires rival’s former coach

VIENNA — Overall World Cup champion Petra Vlhova has hired the former coach of Lara Gut-Behrami, one of her biggest rivals, going into an Olympic year.

The Slovakian skier said on her Instagram page Monday she has started working with Swiss coach Mauro Pini. The announcement comes a month after she parted ways with her longstanding coach Livio Magoni.

Pini coached Gut-Behrami in her early years on the circuit and later worked with Tina Maze, the 2013 overall champion. Gut-Behrami won the overall title in 2016 and finished runner-up to Vlhova in last season’s standings.

Vlhova said she is “convinced” Pini will help her achieve her goals, which include winning her first Olympic medal at the Beijing Games next year.

“Although achieving what we set out to do will not be easy, I am convinced that thanks to the experience and high expertise of the training procedures of our new head coach – Mauro Pini, we will achieve them together not only for ourselves, but especially for all the fans behind us,” Vlhova said.

Last month Vlhova parted ways with Magoni after five years. Their relationship had become tense following unflattering remarks on Vlhova’s style of skiing reportedly made by Magoni in an interview with an Italian newspaper after the season ended in March.

Under Magoni, Vlhova developed from a slalom specialist into an all-event skier. She edged three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin to the World Cup slalom title in 2019-20 and became the first overall champion from Slovakia last season.

More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports