U.S. Alpine skiing’s great hope for the future has become an Olympic champion.
18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin overcame a run-in with a gate on her second and final run to win the gold medal in the women’s slalom, posting a two-run time of 1:44.54 that was .53 of a second faster than three-time Olympic medalist and World Cup slalom legend Marlies Schild.
Shiffrin, who entered Sochi as the reigning World Cup and world champion in slalom, is now the youngest Olympic slalom gold medal winner – man or woman. She takes that distinction from Italian skier Paoletta Magoni (who was 19 when she won at Sarajevo in 1984).
She is also the first American to win the women’s slalom since Barbara Ann Cochran won at Sapporo in 1972 by .02 of a second.
After the event, Shiffrin admitted that she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to pull it off. As relayed by Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News:
Kathrin Zettel of Austria had the second-fastest last run to move from seventh to the bronze ahead of Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won this event four years ago in Vancouver.
Schild herself moved from sixth to first with a scorching last run of 51.11 seconds. But Shiffrin still held the cards as the final top skier of the night.
All she needed was a clean run to win the gold. She didn’t quite have that with the tagging of the aforementioned gate, but she was able to power through.
Her second run time of 51.92 seconds was only sixth-quickest among those runs. But it was enough.
ALPINE SKIING – WOMEN’S SLALOM
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), 1:44.54
2. Marlies Schild (AUT), 1:45.07
3. Kathrin Zettel (AUT), 1:45.35