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Gold medallist US skier Mikaela Shiffrin poses with the stars and stripes on the podium during the Women’s Alpine Skiing Slalom Flower Ceremony at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics
Shiffrin rides pressure for gold Schild of Austria wins 4th medal in 3 different games

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 21, (AFP): American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin showed nerves of steel to add Olympic gold to her world slalom title under floodlights at Rosa Khutor on Friday. The 18-year-old, in pole position after the first run, clocked a combined total of 1min 44.54sec over two runs to finish 0.53sec ahead of Marlies Schild of Austria, who won her fourth Olympic medal in three different Games. Another Austrian, Kathrin Zettel, claimed bronze at 0.81sec, denying fourth-placed German Maria Hoefl-Riesch another podium finish in her Olympic swansong. “This has been a dream of mine for a very long time,” said Shiffrin, who at the age of 18 years and 345 days became the youngest Olympic slalom champion. “I’m so happy to be in this position, and I couldn’t be happier than to be on the podium with Marlies and Kathrin.” It was a remarkable performance from Shiffrin, who won the world title in Schladming last year at the age of just 17, but who was left fuming after a disappointing fifth place in the giant slalom.

Starting the second run in 30th position as the top 30 racers from the first run go in reverse order, Shiffrin battled down the rutted piste after watching Hoefl-Riesch and Slovenian Tina Maze, third after the first run, lose valuable time in a tight middle section. A slight error saw the American briefly go down on the icy snow, her lead on Schild falling from 1.19sec to 0.59sec by the second split, but the teenager gritted her teeth and came up with a smooth bottom section to nail a deserved gold. “It was a crazy moment,” Shiffrin said of her near-fall. “I was going very fast and I thought I was not going to make it, it scared me.” Shiffrin, the youngest US alpine skiing medallist, also became the fifth youngest Olympic champion in any alpine skiing event and the youngest in 30 years, since Swiss racer Michaela Figini won the downhill at 17 in 1984. It was also a fantastic result for the 32-year-old Schild, who tore ligaments in her knee in Shiffrin’s first-ever World Cup slalom victory, in Are, Sweden, in December 2012.

The US skier has won six races since while Schild returned this season to claim her 35th World Cup slalom win in Linz, Austria — the most of any female skier in history. Her silver means Schild became the first female skier to win an Olympic slalom medal at three successive Games, having also won bronze at the 2006 Turin Games and silver in Vancouver. “It was tough for me, after the first run I didn’t have good feelings,” said Schild. “I’m pleased to take a medal. I now have four medals in my career, of course not the gold, but I’ve won so many races. “I’m world champion, I have four Olympic medals, you can’t really complain.”

Schild added: “You have to say that Mikaela is a sensational skier and she’s very quick.” But there was no fairytale ending for Hoefl-Riesch to her amazing Olympic career, which started with slalom and combined golds in Vancouver four years ago. In Rosa Khutor, the 29-year-old German has already added a super-combined gold and super-G silver to her medal haul, but missed the giant slalom with a sore throat. “No matter what happens, I had a great Olympic career, I think,” said Hoefl-Riesch, who was adamant when asked about her possible participation in the 2018 Winter Games. “No chance at all!” she said.

Olympic Medals Table/Podium/Schedule

Medals Table
    Gold    Silver    Bronze    Total
Norway    10    4    8    22
Russia    9    10    7    26
Canada    9    10    5    24
United States    9    7    11    27
Germany    8    4    4    16
Netherlands    6    7    9    22
Switzerland    6    3    2    11
Belarus    5    0    1    6
France    4    4    7    15
Poland    4    0    0    4
China    3    4    2    9
South Korea    3    2    2    7
Austria    2    7    3    12
Sweden    2    6    6    14
Czech Republic    2    4    2    8
Slovenia    2    1    4    7
Japan    1    4    3    8
Finland    1    3    0    4
Great Britain    1    1    2    4
Ukraine    1    0    1    2
Slovakia    1    0    0    1
Italy    0    2    6    8
Australia    0    2    1    3
Latvia    0    1    2    3
Croatia    0    1    0    1
Kazakhstan    0    0    1    1
Gold: Canada
Silver: Great Britain
Bronze: Sweden
Short Track
Gold: Victor Ahn (RUS)
Silver: Wu Dajing (CHN)
Bronze: Charle Cournoyer (CAN)
Short Track
5000m Relay
Gold: Russia
Silver: United States
Bronze: China
Alpine Skiing
Gold: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Silver: Marlies Schild (AUT)
Bronze: Katrin Zettel (AUT)
4x6km Relay
Gold: Ukraine
Silver: Russia
Bronze: Norway
Ski Cross
Gold: Marielle Thompson (CAN)
Silver: Kelsey Serwa (CAN)
Bronze: Anna Holmlund (SWE)
Short Track
Gold: Park Seung-Hi (KOR)
Silver: Fan Kexin (CHN)
Bronze: Shim Suk-Hee (KOR)
Saturday (Seven Gold Medals)
08:15-10:00 — Snowboard — Parallel Slalom M + W — Qualification (Extreme Park — Rosa Khutor)
12:15-14:20 — Snowboard — Parallel Slalom FINALS M + W (Extreme Park — Rosa Khutor)
12:30-14:25 — Nordic Skiing — Mass-start 30 km W — (Laura)
15:45-17:15 — Alpine Skiing — Slalom M — 1st run (Alpine Site — Rosa Khutor)
16:30-19:05 — Speed skating — Team Pursuit M + W — FINALS M + W (Adler Arena)
17:30-19:40 — Biathlon — 4x7.5km Relay M — (Laura)
18:00-20:30 — Ice Hockey M — Bronze medal match (Bolshoi Ice Palace)
19:15-20:50 — Alpine skiing — Slalom M — 2nd run (Alpine Site — Rosa Khutor)
19:30-22:05 — Bobsleigh — four-man — Runs 1 and 2 (Sanki sliding centre) (AFP)

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