Historic Slalom Gold for Shiffrin
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Feb. 21) – Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s slalom history Friday with her victory under the lights at Rosa Khutor. The World Champion capped off the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games for the women’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team with two stunning performances, giving her the first U.S. slalom victory since Phil Mahre in 1984. Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel of Austria skied to silver and bronze. The historic event airs Friday night on NBC’s Primetime Olympic coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. EST and can be replayed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com. Next up, Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) guns for a second medal in the men’s slalom Saturday at Rosa Khutor.
- Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s slalom history Friday with her victory under the lights at Rosa Khutor.
- The World Champion capped off the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games for the women’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team with two stunning runs, giving her the first U.S. slalom victory since Phil Mahre in 1984 and the first women’s slalom victory since Barbara Cochran in 1972.
- She also became the fifth youngest female gold medalist in alpine skiing, the fifth youngest medalist in women's slalom behind Daniele Debernard (FRA-1972), and the sixth American to medal in the event. Only France and Austria have more with eight and seven respectively.
- Shiffrin’s second run went smoothly save a mistake in the middle section. She briefly let her ski rocket out in front of her and propel her off line, which would have been a costly mistake but her quick feet allowed a courageous correction and she continued her gold medal run.
- Julia Ford (Holderness, NH) skied a solid second run, posting a 24th at her first Olympic effort. Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) put down impressive splits in her second run before she straddled a gate and lost a ski.
- Shiffrin’s childhood skiing idols Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel of Austria skied to silver and bronze.
- Rain early in the day created a soft snow surface, but officials were able to salt the course and provide a slightly grippy, world-class medium for the women to showcase the artistic athleticism of their sport.
- The historic event airs Friday night on NBC’s Primetime Olympic coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. EST and can be replayed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com.
- Next up, Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) guns for a second medal in the men’s slalom Saturday at Rosa Khutor.
I wish I could have an American flag on my back in every World Cup, because that’s a really cool feeling to hold that and know that you’re representing not only yourself or your family or your team but your entire country. I owe this to so many people and I’m really glad that I could share it with them. Really, it’s not just me up here, it’s the entire U.S. I’ve seen all the tweets and all of the support and all of the critics, the doubters or whoever that don’t want to see me do it or don’t know if I can; every single one of them has pushed me to this point and I owe this to them as well.
I always dream of the best case scenario and accept it if it doesn’t happen, but I’m really glad that it did today. I’ve just got to keep going. It’s an amazing feeling to win an Olympic gold. It’s going to be something that I chalk up as one of my favorite experiences for the rest of my life, but my life is not over yet.
Today was one of the most special days of my life. These two (Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel) are my greatest idols. I modeled myself after them. To be in this moment with them, to share it with my family and friends, my team and my coaches, and everyone who has been in my past and will be in my future, it’s just very special.
Roland Pfeifer, U.S. Ski Team Tech Head Coach
I felt smitten when I realized right away that she was one of a kind and she wanted to know everything about skiing. With the way she trains and the volume she trains she is probably 25 already, so it’s kind of normal that she skis the way she skis because she trains so much. She really thinks about skiing 24/7, she lives in Europe in the wintertime and she is really full on all the time. She’s really professional, and so it’s just normal that she gets these results.
Eilleen Shiffrin, Mikaela’s Mother
In between runs she seemed great. We listened to some music and she seemed really psyched about her first run and really positive. She said, ‘You, know I just really like to ski slalom. I’m just going to go ski slalom, and not worry about all this anymore and just go ski some slalom.’
When her ski went up I almost died, because that’s what happened last time in Kranjska Gora in her last race and she dumped all of her speed. She’s a quick learner though. She just was like, ‘Noooo! I’m not going again. Come on. Go! Go!’ So I’m just super proud of her. Roland and I definitely had a heart attack. I think this is like a World Cup race but the intensity is magnified a thousand times.
I haven’t skied a fresh course like that in a while, so I could have gone a lot straighter and pinned it a little harder. I was just a little off. For me, rhythm is really important in slalom, and my rhythm was a little off so I just kind of fought it the whole way down. It was really cool and really fun. It’s been an amazing experience and I feel really fortunate to be here and to do this, and I’ll just keep improving over the next four years so I can come back and really be in there.
In my first run I was a couple seconds out, so I knew that second run was going to have to be an all or nothing sort of situation. Obviously at the Olympics that’s what it should be. Just coming down in second or third after my first run wasn’t going to be enough so I needed to come down winning by a lot. I’m happy with the fact that my splits were fast and I felt good, and I knew I was going fast because I was kind of in that zone. The snow is a little bit catchy and I caught a tip in the hairpin and straddled, which made me lose my ski.