Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) has won gold in the women’s giant slalom at PyeongChang 2018, adding to the slalom title she won at Sochi 2014. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel took silver at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre, while Federica Brignone of Italy took bronze.
Manuela Moelgg (ITA) was the surprise fastest competitor after the first run on the morning of 15 February. But errors in her second run saw her drop to eighth.
Estelle Alphand (SWE), who won an impressive haul of medals at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012, dropped down the order after an excellent first run to finish 16th. Meta Hrovat (SLO), a fellow competitor at Innsbruck 2012, was 14th.
Shiffrin confirmed her reputation as the most impressive technician in women’s slalom. She climbed from second position in her first run to lead, with a second-run time of 1:09.20 and a combined time of 2:20.02.
The US athlete showed all her class and long experience at the top of the run, gaining so much time that she could afford a mistake near the end of the course. With the course featuring tight turns, Shiffrin’s excellent technique was a particular advantage.
Risks pay off for Shiffrin
Shiffrin admitted she had to take risks on her second run in order to secure gold, but that she felt a gold medal was there for the taking. “I risked it on the second run. It's super-cool,” she said. “There are moments when I think 'Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?', and there are other moments where I feel like, 'No problem'. I don't know when it was, but at some point after the first run I thought, like, 'I can really win this'. I just tried to hang on to that feeling and then focus on my skiing a bit."
The 22-year old American admitted she felt emotional after her victory, but that she knows she will have to re-focus ahead of her other events, including the women’s slalom, on Friday 16 February.
"There's so much emotion. I don't know how to explain it,” she said. “I have a lot of events to do still, so I have to refocus my energy, but to come here after some tough races on the World Cup circuit and to charge like that, it’s crazy."
Dream come true
Mowinckel, who didn’t finish in the women’s giant slalom in Sochi four years ago, said that she had dreamed of a podium finish from a young age.
“I'm kind of speechless,” she said. “It's unreal. I'm just happy that I could put together two runs. The best feeling is the feeling when you make mistakes, but you just go for it no matter what. This is what you have dreamed of since you're a small kid, and now you're here and it happens - it's just insane.”
The 19-year-old also admitted that she had to produce her best skiing to land the silver medal. “That's the best skiing I can do,” she said. “This is finally coming together as a result of many years doing this. I've been close so many times before, but now I finally feel this season is the season I kind of parcelled bits together and I'm getting more runs that are high quality and stable.”
Performing under pressure
Bronze medal winner Brignone admitted that she had to relax ahead of her second run in order to produce a better performance. “I was really stressed before the first run, and I thought it was really, really tough,” she said.
“There was no sun when we came down but then it got better. I said to myself, 'Now we play'. Now, I think my head is going to explode and my heart too. It's pretty tough right now but I'm so happy.”