KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — To prepare for her first Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin envisioned every scenario possible. Winning, falling short of a medal, crashing. Prior to the competition, the 18-year-old American said she had been to the Winter Games “before, in my head.”
While everybody else saw it as her first Olympics, Shiffrin felt as though it was her thousandth.
Still, all the visualization could not compare with what it felt like for real, not when Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic women’s slalom champion in history Friday, and did so with a dramatic nighttime run.
Shiffrin recovered from what she called a “terrifying” bobble midway through her second run to claim the gold in 1:44:54. Despite that bobble, which caused her left ski to fly out from underneath her and elicited a gasp from the crowd, she finished .53 seconds ahead.
With her history-making performance, Shiffrin added to the US medal count, which stands at an Olympic-leading 27 with two days of competition remaining. Host Russia is one behind. The teenage skier brought the US gold-medal total to nine, including four collected by women and one by ice dance pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White. In Alpine skiing, the United States has five medals — two gold, one silver, and two bronze. Only traditional power Austria has more medals (seven) in Alpine skiing.
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