PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – One Olympic gold medal down for Mikaela Shiffrin. More just might be on deck.
The 22-year-old American used a hard-charging final run to win the giant slalom Thursday for her second career Olympic title. She trailed by 0.20 seconds after the first run, but powered through a course filled with ruts to quickly make up time in the second.
Shiffrin ended up 0.39 seconds ahead of Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway at Yongpyong Alpine Center. Federica Brignone of Italy took bronze, 0.46 behind Shiffrin’s combined time of 2 minutes, 20.02 seconds. First-run leader Manuela Moelgg of Italy wound up eighth.
At the 2014 Sochi Games, Shiffrin won the slalom title at age 18. She will defend that title Friday.
It was an ideal day for racing, with the temperature around 21 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-6 degrees Celsius) and the wind about 8 mph (13 kph). That’s quite a difference from the last few days when three of the opening four races were postponed because of weather and strong wind. The women’s giant slalom was initially scheduled for Monday but moved to Thursday. The slalom was supposed to be Wednesday, but got pushed to Friday.
Coming into the Pyeongchang Olympics, there was talk about Shiffrin possibly chasing after five medals. She’s certainly off to a great start, placing her hand over her heart right after seeing her time. She later fell to the snow in excitement.
The only thing that might slow down Shiffrin is exhaustion, due to the compacted schedule because of all the delays. The flip-flopping of events has been particularly burdensome.
“It’s been a difficult few days, but it’s all about remaining positive and remaining energized and excited to get the games going,” said Mike Day, Shiffrin’s coach. “At this point, the difficult days are just motivation for actually getting to compete. We’re battling a little bit of fatigue from going up and down the gondola every day, and the excitement of getting ready to race and the disappointment of not getting to race. But we’re in good shape.”
This was quite a day for the Norwegians with Mowinckel taking silver. Down the road about 30 miles (50 kilometers) in Jeongseon, teammate Aksel Lund Svindal won the men’s downhill and Kjetil Jansrud took second.
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