Mikaela Shiffrin becomes youngest to win gold in Olympic slalom

SOCHI, Russia -- U.S. skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin survived a near crash on her second run Friday to become, at 18, the youngest winner of the Olympic slalom.

Shiffrin claimed the gold medal with a two-run time of 1 minute 44:54 at Rosa Khotur.

“It is tough to describe my feelings,” she said. “This has been a dream of mine for a very long time.”

Shiffrin defeated two of her Austrian idols for the gold. Marlies Schild, who at 32 was trying to become the oldest woman to win the slalom, finished .53 back for the silver while Austrian teammate Kathrin Zettel won the bronze.

Shiffrin, from Eagle-Vail, Colo., had a .49 lead after winning the first run and skied last among the leaders in the second run.

By the time she reached the start gate, though, her cushion had been extended by 1.34 seconds over Schild.

Shiffrin needed only a solid, steady run to clinch the gold but nearly lost it all midway down the course when she “sat down” on her skis around a gate and nearly skied off course.

“It was a crazy moment,” Shiffrin said of her near miss. “I was going very fast and I thought I was not going to make it. It scared me.”

Shiffrin was asked how her life would change after winning the gold.

“It will just change in the way I want it to change,” she said.

Shiffrin’s win was the second gold medal, and fifth overall, for the U.S. Alpine team at Sochi. It comes two days after Ted Ligety won the men’s giant slalom.

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