Shiffrin defends slalom title
VAIL-BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Saturday’s slalom marked the last day of World Championships action for the ladies and it couldn’t have been a sweeter ending for the American fans as Mikaela Shiffrin laid out a stunning performance and successfully defended her 2012 World Championships title.
In the first run, on a rhythmic course set by Norwegian coach Tim Gfeller, Mikaela Shiffrin made it clear she was here to defend her Schladming gold medal. The American laid down a strong run, finishing just below half a second ahead of Frida Hansdotter and Sarka Strachova who sat in second and third place.
In the second run, the ladies fought hard to hold on to their positions but Shiffrin managed to do so while keeping everyone on their toes during her run. The young Olympic and now two times World Champion lost all of her lead between the start and the first intermediate, made up only 0.01 of the lost time by the second but managed to crush the bottom section of the slope to finish 0.34 seconds ahead of Frida Hansdotter who finished second and 0.77 seconds ahead of Sarka Strachova.
"It was a tough competition, especially in the second," said Shiffrin."The course was faster and everybody wanted it. I am really happy to come on top but I really had to give it all out in the very end."
"I was saving energy for the last section, because I knew that a couple girls had struggled in the bottom, right onto the flats, and that's normally where I can carry my speed," she explained. "That was my focus of the course. It's not always easy to charge the whole way."
Mikaela Shiffrin became then the third woman to win the Slalom world title in back-to-back World Championships following Janica Kostelic (2003 and 2005) and Christel Cranz (1937, 1938, 1939).
Hansdotter, who had finished third in 2013 equalled compatriots Anja Pärson and Pernilla Wiberg who both won two World Championships Slalom medals, most of all Swedish women.
“I have had an amazing season and I am super happy with this silver medal. Mikaela was hard to beat today and it must have been amazing for her to win in front of her home crowd so I am thrilled for both of us,” a very happy Hansdotter said after her run.
Sarka Strachova already owns a full set of World Championships slalom medals - a bronze from Santa Caterina in 2005, a gold one from Are in 2007 and a silver medal from Val d’Isere in 2009 but today’s bronze almost seemed to be the sweetest one for the Czech skier as it came after a few years marked by team changes and illness.
“It’s amazing! It was already amazing when I got a second place in Kuthai at the end of last year, but to win a medal here, the fifth ’big one’ for me is special. I worked so hard for it and this third place is like a gold for me,” Strachova said after the race.
After finishing only 10nt in the 1st run, Veronika Velez-Zuzulova took full advantage of the course set by her father but despite clocking the fastest time of the second run she missed the bronze medal by a mere 0.17 seconds and finished 4th.
“In the first run I didn’t ski so well, I struggled in the first run so I was ready to do a big second run and I think I managed to do so. It sadly was not enough for a medal but there are still three races left this season and I will try to get the most out of them,” Velez-Zuzulova said.
Tomorrow the men will take centre stage for the slalom with the first run scheduled for 10:15 and the second run starting at 14:30 (MST).
For complete results click here.