American star Mikaela Shiffrin pulled out all the stops and laid down a blistering second run to secure the women’s giant slalom gold medal as she finally got her Pyeongchang 2018 campaign underway at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.
The 25-year-old slalom specialist recovered from a 0.20 seconds deficit from the first run to clinch the second Olympic title of her career in a race twice postponed owing to disruption caused by strong winds.
Shiffrin finished in a time of 2:20.02, 0.39 seconds quicker than surprise silver medalist Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, who had only claimed two World Cup podiums at senior-level before today.
Federica Brignone of Italy took bronze, the first woman from her country to win an Alpine skiing medal for 16 years.
“The Olympics is not about protecting the lead, it’s about putting your best on the line and you can see what happens,” the victorious American said.
“It was incredible to take so much risk in that second run but it’s something I’m trying to do more and more with the World Cup racing.”
Shiffrin had produced the second-quickest opening run, turning and weaving her way down the course before crossing in 1:10.82.
It was not enough for the halfway lead, however, as Italian Manuela Moelgg completed her run in 1:10.62.
Moelgg was the only athlete who could deny Shiffrin the Olympic title but she made several errors and eventually finished sixth.
The result saw Shiffrin become only the third American Alpine skier to win two gold medals in the sport, joining Andrea Mead-Lawrence and Ted Ligety.
Shiffrin will now aim to repeat the success when she competes in her preferred slalom race Thursday.
The overall World Cup holder comes into the event as the strong favorite and will bid to retain the Olympic title she secured at Sochi 2014.
“It’s never easy but it’s really nice that no matter what I do from today on, I will walk away from these Olympics with something,” said Shiffrin.
“I knew I could win medals in multiple disciplines but I also knew I could have nothing.
“So, I have something now and that’s great and I can ski for myself.”
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.