Italian Marta Bassino took a slender lead in the first run of the World Cup season opener at a foggy Soelden

Sölden (Austria) (AFP) - Marta Bassino edged her fellow Italian Federica Brignone by 58 hundredths of a second after the World Cup season-opening women’s giant slalom first leg on the Austrian glacier of Soelden on Saturday.

This is the first event since last season was brought to an abrupt halt in March because of Covid-19, and the pandemic has forced major change to this seaaon’s calendar.

Soelden for instance is going ahead without any fans in front of a reduced media presence and without physical press conferences. And without Mikaela Shiffrin who has had to delay her quest for a fourth overall title due to a bad back.

The 25-year-old American’s run of three consecutive titles came to a halt last season when she ended the season early after the sudden death of her father, with Brignone claiming the overall big crystal globe.

Lying third came Mina Fuerst Holtmann, with the Norwegian 92 hundredths of a second off the pace, with last year’s winner Alice Robinson in fourth.

The New Zealander, now 18, is 1.18sec adrift ahead of the second run which is due to get underway at 1200GMT.