Alpine skiing-Shiffrin celebrates her first win in Are

Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:03pm EST
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By Manuele Lang

ARE, Sweden (Reuters) - American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin made the most of some big name absences to take her first World Cup victory in an Alpine skiing slalom in Are on Thursday.

With Austrian world champion Marlies Schild injured and overall World Cup holder Lindsey Vonn of the United States taking a break until the New Year, the 17-year-old won with a combined time of one minute and 45.36 seconds.

Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, the first run pacesetter, was second and 0.29 seconds adrift while Slovenia's World Cup leader Tina Maze was third, 0.52 off the pace.

"My heart just stopped and it will take me a year to realize what I've just done. I was just trying to fly," said former junior world bronze medalist Shiffrin, who had only twice before stood on the World Cup podium.

Shiffrin, who was third in a slalom in Levi, Finland, last month and also third in the Austrian resort of Lienz a year ago, delivered a perfect second leg to fend off the challenge of her more experienced rivals in the last race before Christmas.

"Now I'm probably going to hug my mum a lot. My Dad will also be coming over for Christmas. I'll try to calm down and prepare for Semmering," added the skier from Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.

The women have two more races in the Austrian resort next week before the end of the year.

While she is not the youngest skier to win a World Cup race -- several women having done so at 16 - Shiffrin is the second youngest American to do so after Judy Nagel in 1969 and certainly one of the big talents to emerge in recent years.   Continued...

Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. celebrates on the podium after winning the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup women's slalom in Are, December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix