BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - American Mikaela Shiffrin put herself in pole position to claim the final women’s gold medal of the alpine ski world championships, taking a commanding lead after the first leg of the slalom on Saturday.
Shiffrin, the world and Olympic champion, charged down the sun-kissed Golden Eagle track to the roar of an excited home crowd, crossing in a time of 50.47 seconds, a full 0.40 seconds in front of Frida Hansdotter, who is bidding to become the third Swede to claim the slalom crown.
“I am satisfied with my first run,” said Hansdotter. “It was hard to let the skis go but I tried to ski as fast as I could. It’s okay.”
Czech Sarka Strachova was third fastest followed by Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser, according to provisional results.
Austrians have put skiers on the podium in nine of 10 events and need just one more gold from the final two races to match their best-ever results of six gold set at the 1962 championships in Chamonix.
After a slow start to the championships that produced just one silver and two bronze, the U.S. ski team will try to go out with a bang with Shiffrin trying to land the second American gold in as many days following Ted Ligety’s victory on Friday in the giant slalom.
Editing by Gene Cherry