Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest alpine skiing world champion in 28 years after winning the women’s slalom today in Schladming, Austria.
Shiffrin, at 17 years, 340 days, was in third place after the first run and finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 39.85 seconds. She beat Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser by 0.22 seconds, with first-run leader Frida Hansdotter of Sweden a further 0.04 seconds back in third.
Shiffrin was born in Vail, Colorado, and moved to New Hampshire at the age of 8 when her father took a job as an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Her dad, Jeff, who skied on Dartmouth’s team, acts as her manager.
“I haven’t yet realized what just happened,” Shiffrin said on the World Cup skiing website. “In the first run I wasn’t quite awake and aware of the situation. Two minutes before the second run I felt I could win and I did.”
Shiffrin is the youngest world champion in any discipline since American Diann Roffe-Steinrotter, who was 21 days younger when she won the giant slalom in 1985. Only Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein, at 17 years, 56 days in 1974, and Britain’s Esme Mackinnon, at 17 years, 82 days, in 1931 were younger slalom champions.
Shiffrin took the lead with a second run time of 49.26 seconds. She then had to wait for Poutiainen and Hansdotter to ski, but neither could overtake the teenager.
The U.S. leads the gold medal standings with four, while its five total medals are one behind host Austria. The championships conclude tomorrow with the men’s slalom, where American Ted Ligety goes for his fourth gold medal in Schladming.
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