Alpine skiing: Liensberger ends Shiffrin's reign with slalom gold

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CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) - Austria's Katharina Liensberger won the women's slalom gold at the Alpine skiing world championships on Saturday as Mikaela Shiffrin's bid for a record fifth successive title ended with bronze.

World Cup overall leader Petra Vlhova of Slovakia took the silver.

The gold in the final race of the women's programme was Liensberger's second in Cortina d'Ampezzo and her third medal after finishing equal first in the parallel event and taking bronze in the giant slalom.

"It's amazing. I really gave it all today and I worked so hard for it," gasped the Austrian, who led Vlhova by 0.30 after the first run and extended that advantage to finish exactly a second clear.

"It was so often so near and so close. I won this race and it means so much to me," added the first Austrian women's slalom world champion since Marlies Schild in 2011.

Vlhova and Shiffrin are the dominant queens of slalom skiing, the two of them winning every race expect one in the technical discipline on the World Cup circuit since January 2017.

Shiffrin was fourth after the first run but secured her 11th world championship medal after Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, who had been third, was unable to hold on to her position and missed out by 0.36.

The bronze was Shiffrin's fourth medal in Cortina d'Ampezzo and extended her record as the all-time U.S. skier with most world championship medals.

The title was what she wanted, though.

Already the only skier, male or female, to have taken the title in the same discipline at four world championships in a row, a fifth was always going to require something extraordinary.

After lagging Liensberger by 1.30 after the first run, the gap grew to nearly two seconds at the end on the gleaming Druscie piste.

Shiffrin leaves Italy with gold from the combined event, silver in giant slalom and bronze in super-G as well as Saturday's medal.

"It’s been a pretty incredible couple of weeks," she said. "I never imagined I would win four medals and one world championship."

Italy's Federica Brignone ended her championships in disappointment, the reigning overall World Cup champion hitting a gate on the first run and falling in her last attempt to medal on home snow.

Switzerland's Michelle Gisin, bronze medallist in the combined and the only woman to interrupt Vlhova and Shiffrin's winning run in the discipline on the World Cup circuit, also failed to finish the first run.

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