- Swiss skier takes first giant slalom title of career in opening race of World Cup season
- Austria's Kathrin Zettel finishes second; Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg is third
- Last year's winner and overall World Cup champion finishes in 18th place
Switzerland's Lara Gut won the giant slalom as the World Cup season kicked off in Soelden, Austria on Saturday.
The 22-year-old's first-ever victory in the discipline was clinched in a combined time of two minutes 25.16 seconds from two runs.
Austria's Kathrin Zettel finished second, 0.84 seconds behind Gut with Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg a further 0.44 seconds slower in third.
"It's the first race of the season and already a win, it's amazing. I'm happy to bring a giant slalom win to Switzerland again," Gut said afterwards.
"In the first run I was trying to ski clean and push it to the limits although the snow was pretty aggressive. In the second run I just thought about skiing fast and didn't think about what could happen ..." she added.
Gut's previous best finish in a giant slalom race had been third -- in Lenzerheide, Switzerland earlier this year and at Semmering in Austria back in 2008.
Zettel's second place earned her a record fifth podium finish in Soelden and the 20th of her career in giant slalom.
"It's a big podium here and quite a good beginning to the season. I felt confident before the race and I hoped to get a podium after a good summer of training in New Zealand," Zettel said.
Mikaela Shiffrin was the best-placed U.S. skier finishing sixth, but compatriot Julia Mancuso had a disappointing opening day finishing down in 27th.
Last season's overall World Cup champion Tina Maze was crowned "Skier of the Year" earlier in the week but could only finish in 18th place in a race she won 12 months ago.