Mikaela Shiffrin reinforced her Olympic favorite status by winning her second straight World Cup slalom event and third this season in Flachau, Austria, on Tuesday night.
Shiffrin, 18, conquered the course in a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.83 seconds, beating Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .83. Another Swede, Maria Pietilae-Holmner, was third.
Shiffrin led by a comfortable .90 after the first run in the early evening.
“The first run I really let it go and gave myself a little bit of a cushion for the second run,” said Shiffrin, now a seven-time World Cup race winner and $59,000 richer. “But second run I had a couple moves where I kind of hit the rut. I was like, ‘No, just stay the course!’ So I’m really psyched.”
The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday and Sunday. The last slalom before the Olympics is in Maribor, Slovenia, on Feb. 2, five days before the Opening Ceremony.
“It’s nice to sing my national anthem a couple of races before the Olympics,” Shiffrin said. “Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
Shiffrin’s gold medal hopes wavered in late December, when Austrian Marlies Schild won two straight World Cup slaloms.
The Austrian Schild was fourth after the first run Tuesday and fell in her second run to finish 26th.
Schild, 32, owns the record for most career World Cup slalom wins and won the World Cup season title four times in six years before suffering a major right knee injury in December 2012.
Shiffrin, who lists Schild as an idol, took the reins from Schild and won the World Championship in February.
The American is guaranteed to be leading the World Cup slalom standings going into the Olympics no matter the results in Maribor.
“If I’m a medal contender, then that just means that I’m going to try to contend for a medal,” Shiffrin said. “When my nana tells me that my ski racing is keeping her alive, I think that’s more pressure than any race.”
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:45.83
2. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:46.66
3. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 1:46.97
4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:47.23
5. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 1:47.38
6. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 1:47.82
7. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 1:47.98
8. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 1:47.99
8. Wendy Holdener (AUT) 1:47.99
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:48.01