- Alpine Skiing
American Mikaela Shiffrin storms to lead in first run of Sochi slalom
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin took the lead in the first leg of the Olympic slalom on Friday while fighting the effects of a cold.
Shiffrin handled the mix of soft snow on a steep slope best, and finished 0.49 seconds faster than defending champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany. Tina Maze of Slovenia was third fastest, trailing 0.67 behind Shiffrin's time of 52.62 seconds.
Austrian veteran Marlies Schild, Shiffrin's main rival for gold, was 1.34 back in sixth. Schild, however, prefers icy conditions.
- Full event replay - Slalom Run 1
- Full event replay - Slalom Run 2
- Mikaela Shiffrin wins gold in women’s slalom
- Mikaela Shiffrin reacts after winning slalom gold
- Mikaela Shiffrin vs. Tina Maze overlayed video
- Analysis: Mikaela Shiffrin unseats master in slalom
- Mikaela Shiffrin charms Bob Costas during interview
- Mikaela Shiffrin analyzes her slalom victory
- Mikaela Shiffrin’s brilliant performance
- Mikaela Shiffrin’s road to Olympic slalom gold
- Marlies Schild wins third Olympic slalom medal
- Kathrin Zettel of Austria wins bronze in slalom
- Julia Ford finishes 24th for Team USA
- Megan McJames unable to finish first run
- Resi Steigler straddles a gate and does not finish
- Jackie Chamoun of Lebanon finishes 47th in slalom
- Poland’s Maryna Gasienica-Daniel falls but keeps getting up
The racers skied under floodlights in the fading late-afternoon light. The second run is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. (2015 GMT).
"I'm not really worried about the lead right now," Shiffrin said. "I mean, actually, five-tenths isn't even that much."
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Women's Slalom Run 1
At 18, Shiffrin would be the youngest Olympic slalom champion. She would also be the first American women's slalom champion in 42 years, since Barbara Cochran won at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics.
But Hoefl-Riesch and Maze also have history to ski for. Hoefl-Riesch is seeking a record-equaling fourth career Alpine gold, and Maze can equal the record of three Alpine golds at one Winter Games.
Schriffin, the current world champion and World Cup title holder in slalom, has been expected to produce a gold medal display.
Her mother, Eileen, said the racer had caught "a pretty bad cold" at the Olympics.
Still, Shiffrin said she was relaxed approaching her main event despite a frustrating fifth-place finish in the giant slalom on Tuesday.
Embedded video_content_type: Mikaela Shiffrin's childhood friend, a bone cancer survivor, finds way to Sochi
"There were a couple of points throughout the day where I was like, 'Oh, my God. Here we go,'" said Shiffrin, mimicking heavy breathing. "But, no, I was relaxed in the start, and that was awesome."
She said quick footwork on her skis through a tighter-than-usual gate setting was the key to her fast time.
"Mostly my plan was just to move my feet a little bit faster than everybody else and I guess I moved them about 5 tenths faster," Shiffrin said, laughing.
Standing in fourth place, Austrian racer Bernadette Schild said Shiffrin "skied perfect today like she always does" but could be caught.
Three of the top-15 starters failed to complete the course, including Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden, who had two podium finishes in World Cup races this season.
Embedded video_content_type: Mikaela Shiffrin rises to the next level
Best of Sochi