Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin added to her fast-growing resume on Friday in Sochi, earning the gold medal in the women's slalom final at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
|Women's Slalom Results|
|Run 1||Run 2||Total||Diff|
|1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)||52.62||51.92||1:44.54||--|
|2. Marlies Schild (AUT)||53.96||51.11||1:45.07||0.53|
|3. Kathrin Zettel (AUT)||54.00||51.35||1:45.35||0.81|
|4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER)||53.11||52.62||1:45.73||1.19|
|5. Frida Hansdotter (SWE)||54.05||51.85||1:45.90||1.36|
|6. Emelie Wikstroem (SWE)||54.55||51.56||1:46.11||1.57|
|7. Nastasia Noens (FRA)||53.81||52.31||1:46.12||1.58|
|8. Tina Maze (SLO)||53.29||52.96||1:46.25||1.71|
|9. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN)||54.32||53.05||1:47.37||2.83|
|10. Sarka Strachova (CZE)||55.14||52.25||1:47.39||2.85|
The 18-year-old entered the 2014 Games as a favorite in the event after winning gold in the slalom at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Still, the Olympic stage is an entirely different animal, and the fact Shiffrin was able to tame it speaks volumes about her poise and potential moving forward.
In addition to her maturity, Shiffrin's impressive performance highlights her resilience.
After all, it was just days ago that the skiing prodigy was making headlines for her disappointing finish in the women's giant slalom. Although fifth place is nothing to sneeze at, rising expectations and the absence of Lindsey Vonn has forced Shiffrin into the spotlight.
For a first-time Olympian under that level of pressure, Shiffrin's podium-worthy performance deserves lots of praise.
She took a commanding lead in the first run of the day, jumping out to a lead of over half a second, which she held throughout the second run. Shiffrin talked about that lead to Shira Springer of The Boston Globe after her first run:
“I’m not really worried about the lead right now,” she said. “Actually, five-tenths isn’t even that much. It’s a two-run race.
“Mostly, my plan was to try to move my feet a little bit faster than everybody else. I guess I moved them about five-tenths faster.”
Shiffrin's fast feet clearly paid off in spectacular fashion, with an impressive win over a very strong field of competitors.
Now, with an Olympic gold medal to her name, Shiffrin will leave Sochi with more than just fond memories. She now has a legacy to build on in the future and a never-ending source of confidence when it comes to competing at the highest level.
Only time will tell whether Shiffrin will go down as one of the elite American Alpine skiing athletes. But it's safe to say that she's off to a strong start.
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