American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin made Winter Olympics history by becoming the youngest slalom gold medal winner at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
The 18-year-old, from Colorado, was the favourite heading into the event after topping the podium at last year’s World Championship in Schladming and was the overall World Cup champion.
She proved she could shine on the grandest stage yesterday with an opening run that left her nearly half a second clear of the rest of the field.
Shiffrin, who finished fifth in the giant slalom earlier in the week, set off second time around with a healthy 1.34-second advantage over second-placed Marlies Schild, and although she nearly fell halfway through her run, she held her nerve to move into the record books.
“It was a crazy moment. I was going very fast and I thought I was not going to make it – it scared me,” she said.
An overall time of one minute 44.54 seconds was enough to secure victory by 0.53secs ahead of silver medallist Schild, whose fellow Austrian Kathrin Zettel claimed bronze.
“It is tough to describe my feelings. This has been a dream of mine for a very long time,” said Shiffrin after breaking Paoletta Magoni-Sforza’s record for the youngest Olympics slalom winner.
Shiffrin was particularly delighted to share the podium with her “idols”.
Schild, who also won silver in this event at Vancouver 2010, became the oldest slalom medallist at 32 years old, while Zettel earned her first Olympic podium place.
Shiffrin added: “This is one of the most special days of my life. Winning a gold medal at the Olympics is one thing, but being able to share it with these two, they’re two of my greatest idols.
“I used to watch them ski and I really modelled myself after them.”
Defending champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch was second after the first run but a big mistake halfway through her second attempt saw her finish fourth, 1.19secs behind Shiffrin, who has been compared to the German as well as fellow gold medallists Tina Maze and compatriot Lindsay Vonn.
Canada will meet Sweden in tomorrow’s men’s ice hockey final after they beat the United States 1-0. Sweden earlier defeated Finland 2-1.