Alpine skiing: Gold for Gut-Behrami as sun shines in Cortina

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CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) - Swiss favourite Lara Gut-Behrami won the women's super-G gold medal as the Alpine skiing world championships started in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Thursday after a three-day weather delay.

Corinne Suter improved on her 2019 bronze to make it a Swiss one-two in the rescheduled race, her time 0.34 lower than Gut-Behrami's one minute 25.51 seconds down the glistening Olympia delle Tofane piste.

Mikaela Shiffrin, the defending champion from the United States, took bronze on a sunny morning after recent fog and snow in the Italian Dolomites. The race was held without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gold was a career first for Gut-Behrami, who had won four World Cup super-Gs in a row ahead of Cortina. The 29-year-old has three silvers and two bronzes from previous championships.

"In the past I always wanted to win gold and it never happened," said the Swiss when asked if she had realised her biggest dream.

"Today it was the first time that I knew my life wouldn't change if I won or not. I didn't ski to win the gold medal, I just skied to try to show what I can (do) and this was the big difference.

"I finally have a lot besides skiing," added the Swiss, who married national soccer player Valon Behrami in 2018.

"My life is not just about if I am skiing well or's not if you win a gold medal your career is worth something and if you're not winning you are not worth anything."

She was the first Swiss skier to win a world championship super-G since Maria Walliser in 1987 and now has a record-equalling three medals in the discipline with a complete set of gold, silver and bronze.

Thursday was the first time in more than a year that Shiffrin had started a super-G and the medal was her eighth from five world championships starting in 2013.

The American had put in only four days of training for her first speed race since January 2020, having competed only in technical disciplines on the World Cup circuit so far this season.

Starting aggressively as the fourth out of the hut, she looked a little rusty and went slightly wide with an error that cost her some precious tenths on the final stretch.

Shiffrin was still fastest until Suter went down next and then Gut-Behrami, starting seventh, made sure of gold with a faultless run.

Olympic champion Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic finished fourth.

Italy's reigning overall World Cup champion Federica Brignone was the quickest of the home skiers, in 10th place with Marta Bassino 11th.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)