Shiffrin wins the Slalom Gold ahead of Schild and Zettel

She may be a few days shy of her 19th birthday but Michaela Shiffrin made a half second lead from the first run in the Women’s Olympic Slalom count as she just held on for the … win. While Shiffrin held on for the win, Marlies Schild battled her way up from sixth and Kathrin Zettel from seventh to give the Austrian Team the silver and bronze. Tina Maze and Maria Hoefl-Riesch were the two lose out of the medal spots from the first run.

Shiffrin did well to hold on to the lead and the Gold medal. With the conditions deteriorating, the American, while not as fast as others, was holding it together until she made a huge mistake that saw her have to make an impressive inside ski correction. The American Team technical coach, roland Pfeifer, thought it was all over: “Sometimes Mikaela, for some reason when she is really hammering it, she gets a little in the backseat. She is overdoing it, letting the skis get a little hot, shooting out. So she overdid it in the second run, and that was brutal. I thought, it’s over. But luckily she was really ripping the top and it was just good enough to win.”

If the coach thought it was over, what did Shiffrin feel: “It’ was a crazy moment,” Shiffrin said of the moment in her second run. “I was going very fast, and I thought I was not going to make it. It scared me half to death.”

At the start of the second run, Shiffrin had a huge lead over Schild: 1.34 seconds. The mistake wiped out much of this but she still crossed the line at the finish with a lead of almost a second, 0.53 advantage. Afterwards she said: “To win, this is why we’re all here, aren’t we? What I know is that this is the real one; Olympic champion.” In winning, Shiffrin became the youngest Alpine Gold Medallist in women’s slalom and the first American since Phil Mahre won the slalom in 1984 and Barbara Cochran the womens slalom in 1972.

While Schild is very much a threat, her career is at the opposite end of the age scale to Shiffrin. Schild is 32 and is the most successful women’s World Cup Slalom racer with 35 slalom race wins in the last ten years; Shiffrin has seven in the last two years. Records are there to be broken and the way that the American is going, it will not be long before she is attacking the Austrians records.

Schild was disappointed with her first run and knew that she had to attack on the second run if she was to add to her haul of Olympic medals. “After my first run I was very disappointed because I had such a bad feeling going down the hill. So I tried to change everything in the second run.” She then added:”I think I won the silver medal, not lost a gold medal. Of course, gold is missing.” Schild now has three silver medals and a bronze.

The Olympics have been a hard place for Kathrin Zettel, not only did she lose her Grandmother a few days before the race but it seemed that she would end her career with two fourth places being her best results. But when Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the defending champion yet struggling with a cold, came down from second but placed behind the Austrian, Zettel said afterwards: “It was hard standing in the finish area, racer after racer. When Maria crossed the finish I crashed down laughing, crying, and laughing again. This was really my last chance for an Olympic medal,” she said.


Picture: Mikaela Shiffrin on her way to winning the Gold in Sochi. Credit: Zoom Agence