Golden Child: American Mikaela Shiffrin Captures Historic Olympic Slalom Gold
Step aside ladies; it’s Mikaela Shiffrin’s world and you are just living in it. The 18-year-old Colorado native took the world by storm Friday, winning the gold medal in the women’s Olympic slalom event. No stranger to making history, the American alpine skiing sensation became the youngest female in Olympic history to win the slalom event. She also became the first U.S. woman to win the Olympic slalom since Barbara Cochran won at the 1972 Winter Games.
At such a young age, Shiffrin was turning heads in the alpine ski world long before this winter’s Olympic Games. In 2013, she became the youngest woman to win an alpine skiing world title since 1985. She has won seven World Cup events in her short career, including three of six slalom events this season and looks to have a long future ahead of her in the sport.
As the reigning slalom world champion going into the event in Sochi, Shiffrin was expected to do well, but the Olympic stage has proven a tough task for some of the world’s best this time around in Russia. The young American did not disappoint.
She began her Olympic campaign with an impressive fifth place finish in the giant slalom earlier in the week. Shiffrin made it known that while fifth was a great start for her Olympic career, she didn’t plan on finishing off the podium during her marquee event, the slalom. Living up to her promise, the American sweetheart dominated a stacked field, including already Sochi golden Tina Maze of Slovenia, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Marlies Schild of Austria, all of whom were a least 10-12 years older than Shiffrin.
After completing her first of two runs, Shiffrin had a 0.49-second advantage to work with. As long as she could keep steady legs, the gold was hers. The triumph didn’t come without any drama however, when Shiffrin nearly spilled half way through her second run. Even with the minor blunder, she was able to gain additional time on her competitors, winning the title by an impressive 0.53-second margin. Her combined time of 1:44.54 was more than enough to fulfill her golden destiny.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win an Olympic gold,” Shiffrin said. “It’s going to be something that I chalk up as one of my favorite experiences for the rest of my life, but my life is not over yet.”
The world is anxiously waiting to see what she has up her sleeves next, but for now, Shiffrin and the United States can revel in her new Olympic hardware.