Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. skis during the second run of the women's alpine skiing slalom event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)
Shiffrin makes history with slalom win
Shiffrin, whose family lived in Lyme, N.H., from 2003 to 2008, said she’d envisioned such a spill before arriving here to best prepare for that possibility, somehow not only regained her balance but her pace and the rhythm crucial for maneuvering swiftly through the series of gates.
Seconds later, crouched low over skis, Shiffrin sailed over the finish line to become, at 18, the youngest slalom winner in Olympic history.
“I didn’t lose the gold medal,” said Schild. “I won silver in the second run. My dream died in the first run down.”
Shiffrin, who became the youngest skier to win a World Championship in 2013 and led the World Cup standings in the event this season, lost time in the near-fall. But the 0.49-second lead she had on the field after the morning run gave her plenty of cushion.
“That (the near-fall) was a pretty crazy moment there,” said Shiffrin, now living in Eagle-Vail, Colo. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to make it.’ I threw on a hockey stop right there. That was a little bit tough. It scared me half to death.”
Before the race, the extremely confident teenager had counseled her coach not to worry.
She was true to her word in the morning run, her time of 52.62 providing her with a sizable lead over her most dangerous competitions.
Shiffrin was 1.34 seconds up on then-leader Schild when, to the sound of clanging cowbells, horns and screams, she jumped out of the chute-like gate.
“I felt like I was really charging out of the start and had a good speed going,” she said. “That always makes me feel more comfortable on my feet. I thought the most fun part of the course was coming up, five gates really tight. You’re basically wiggling your feet back and forth. It’s really fun.”
“It was a crazy moment,” she said.
Before that run, her mother, an ex-ski racer, had told her to relax.
“I told her, ‘You don’t have to be 100 percent but don’t make any big mistakes,’ “ said Ellen Shiffrin. “Fortunately, she regrouped so well.”
“This is why we’re all here, isn’t it?” she said. “I wish I could have an American flag on my back at every World Cup race because that’s an amazing feeling to know you’re representing not just yourself or your team or your family but your entire country.”
Julia Ford, of Holderness, finished 24th in the event. It was her first Olympic effort.