Winter Olympics 2018: Mikaela Shiffrin wins giant slalom for first gold in Pyeongchang
The American ski phenom had a tremendous second run to put her over the top
Mikaela Shiffrin, America's next big thing in skiing, has the second Olympic gold medal of her career and her first in giant slalom. Shiffrin's combined pair of runs in giant slalom on Thursday clocked in at 2 minutes, 20.02 seconds, usurping 34-year-old Italian Manuela Moelgg for the top of the podium. Moelgg held a 0.20-second lead on Shiffrin after the first run, when the 22-year-old crossed the finish line in 1:10.82.
Shiffrin comfortably won over silver medalist Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway by 0.39 seconds (2:20.41). Italy's Federica Brignone took bronze with an aggregate time of 2:20.48. After a shaky second run down the mountain, Moelgg wound up finishing eighth.
Shiffrin's gold here is her first of the Winter Games in South Korea; she won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games in her signature event of slalom. Shiffrin will race in slalom and go for back-to-back golds in that event, and back-to-back golds on successive days, on Friday. Thursday's giant slalom races in South Korea were finally held after being postponed dating back to Monday due to wind and weather concerns.The delay brought about discussion regarding if the mental adjustments for the event would impact the results. Regardless, Shiffrin looked as good as she ever has on the world's stage in giant slalom.
"To be honest, it's incredible but for me the biggest thing is with my GS, it's so special in how it's been building this year, and since Sochi," Shiffrin said on television moments after clinching gold. "I got fifth in Sochi, I was two-tenths off the podium, and I thought, I'm not the best GS skier so I don't deserve to win a gold medal or even a medal in GS. At that time I set a goal to, you know, become the best GS skier in the world, and some of my GS skiing right now, it's so incredible and to be able to put a run, that run I was really taking risks and fighting for it and I'm so happy for that."
This Olympics is not short on American talent, but Shiffrin came in with as much hype as any American at these Games, and she is hoping to do the unprecedented and win five gold medals in all five alpine skiing disciplines. The giant slalom was no guarantee for Shiffrin to win gold, over even silver, so her comfortable victory is a foreboding warning to her competitors in other events.
"It's been a work-in-progress every season with giant slalom, it feels like I've been -- I've just come up short and there's always somebody else who's just a little better than I am, and it's actually the same thing this season," Shiffrin said on NBC's telecast. "I'm third in the giant slalom standings and I've had some heartbreaking races but also some amazing races, but to come here and do that today was incredible. Of course now I have the slalom tomorrow, so I'm trying to, like, get the emotions under control and focus again."
For Shiffrin, it's her second straight medal in worldwide competition in GS. She took silver in the event at the 2017 World Championships. Shiffrin is already a historic American Olympian: She's just the third person in United States history to win a pair of Olympic gold medals in alpine skiing, joining Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead-Lawrence.
According to USA Today, Shiffrin's mom and trainer announced that the Olympian will skip Saturday's (Friday for those in the U.S.) Super-G race due to the compressed schedule.
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