U.S. teen Shiffrin banks slalom gold

Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:15pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - U.S. teenager Mikaela Shiffrin won slalom gold on Friday with a heartstopping second run on the ragged edge that sent her into the Olympic record books as the youngest champion in the discipline.

Shiffrin, 18 years and 345 days old but already a world champion last year, skied fast and clean through the first leg but almost blew it on the second when she ripped down the top part of the course and made a big error at the midpoint.

The Vail-born skier's outside ski lifted into the air as she fought for balance before regaining control and finishing 0.53 clear of Austrian silver medallist Marlies Schild.

"I felt like I was really charging out of the start and had good speed," the bubbly Schiffrin, also the youngest U.S. Alpine skier to medal at a Games, told reporters after the happy ending.

"All of a sudden I was like 'Oh, I'm going out of the course'. It was a pretty terrifying experience really. I mean, it's probably not the worst thing that could happen in my life but in that moment I was pretty pissed at myself."

Her mother Eileen, watching at the finish, might have felt more like calling an ambulance.

"I really almost had a heart attack, but thank God Mikaela was so quick to regroup and get going again, because then I could calm down. But I'm pretty sure I almost had to be defibrillated," she told reporters.

Shiffrin's team coach Roland Pfeifer described the moment as 'brutal'.   Continued...

Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. reacts in the finish area after competing in the first run of the women's alpine skiing slalom event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger