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Skiing: Asa Ando becomes 1st Japanese woman to claim slalom top 10 at worlds

Asa Ando of Japan in action during a women's slalom at the alpine world ski championships on Feb. 20, 2021, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. (Agence Zoom/Getty/Kyodo)

BERLIN (Kyodo) -- Asa Ando placed 10th in Saturday's women's slalom at the alpine world ski championships, the best finish by a Japanese in the event at either the worlds or the Olympics.

    The 24-year-old was eighth after a 50.45-second first run at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. A 52.47-second final run left her in 10th place with a combined time of 1:42.92.

    "I'm overjoyed and shocked," said Ando, who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. "I was careful not to time my turns too early. I could run relatively calm for the first one, the second I can't recall."

    The previous best by a Japanese woman was Emiko Okazaki's 13th at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, which doubled as the world championships, according to the Ski Association of Japan.

    Austrian Katharina Liensberger won in 1:39.50 to secure her second gold medal at the meet following her parallel giant slalom victory. Petra Vlhova of Slovakia was runner-up a second behind.

    American Mikaela Shiffrin, who was seeking an unprecedented fifth straight worlds slalom gold, was third.

    Ando had finished in her personal-high 15th at a World Cup meet this season and was aiming for the same placing at her third worlds appearance.

    Twenty-fourth on the start list, Ando displayed crisp turns in her first run and punched the air in joy when she saw her time.

    "I thought 'no way.' I couldn't take it in," said Ando, who did drift wide at a turn during her second but held on to set a new mark for her compatriots to aim for.

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