Shiffrin strikes early gold in Olympic giant slalom
Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin wasted no time in her medal hunt at PyeongChang 2018 as the technical ace picked up her second career gold medal on Thursday, but this time in giant slalom. As one of the pre-race favorites, she was expected to perform well but was likely to face a number of serious challengers. Shiffrin sat in second place after the first run but was able to claim victory with a quick second run.
Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, a relative outsider who has only finished on a World Cup giant slalom podium once before, lived up to the Attacking Viking moniker of her team to move from fourth place after the first run into the silver medal position. It was the first medal for a Norwegian female in alpine skiing since 1936 and only the second in the nation's history. Her teammates Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud finished with gold and silver medals in the men's downhill earlier in the day to add to Norwegian celebrations.
Federica Brignone maintained her third-place position from run one to claim her first-ever Olympic medal with bronze. The Italian has 17 career World Cup giant slalom podiums to her name and was considered a definitive medal contender heading into PyeongChang.
The women will race the rescheduled slalom at YongPyong Alpine Centre on Friday with start times at 10:00 and 13:15 KST.
Mikaela SHIFFRIN (USA)
On whether she is happy to be competing after multiple delays:
"Yeah. You don't even know. Last night I was like, 'Are we ever going to race?' It's really nice and it's fair today which is really, really important, especially at the Olympics. The conditions are great. The weather is beautiful and it's a pleasure to be racing today."
On how her first run went:
"Good. I skied well. I was loose. I put some of my good skiing from training in there, but I also feel like I can go a little bit harder. You know there's nothing to hold back for in the second run, the nice thing about the Olympics is you don't hold back. I'm excited to see what I can do."
On the course:
"The top is kind of like a false flat and you can push into it so hard. It feels like perfect. And then on the middle it got a little more chattery. There's some sort of micro-terrain that, especially when it's a little darker, you can't see it that well. It seems like it's been tossing everybody around a little bit more.
"So I think everyone has some first-run jitters. What you saw there from anybody, it wasn't really a good depiction of what we can all do. So second run is going to be like a new race. I think it will be really interesting."
On whether she prefers starting her competition with giant slalom rather than slalom:
"I don't see there being any advantage one way or the other. I've been skiing well in both GS (giant slalom) and slalom. I was thinking, 'OK, I'll be ready when we race', but the toughest thing is just to mentally tide yourself over until it is time to go.
"And now we've been race-ready for the past basically five days in a row, and we're finally racing today, so that's good and also tough, but I feel good. I'm really happy to be out here. I'm happy that it's not freezing for you guys (media)."