Alpine Skiing

Rod Perry - Friday Feb. 21, 2014 12:43 ET

Mikaela Shiffrin youngest ever Olympic women's slalom winner

Canada's Marie-Michèle Gagnon 9th

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates with the American flag after Friday's win.
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates with the American flag after Friday's win. (Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images)

American phenom Mikaela Shiffrin made alpine skiing history on Friday, becoming the youngest ever Olympic champion in women’s slalom.

Shiffrin, 18, skied a near-flawless two-run combined total of one minute, 44.54 seconds at Rosa Khutor Extreme Alpine Center, earning the first Olympic medal of her career after entering the event as a favourite.

The Vail, Colo., teen wrestled the 30-year record away from Paoletta Magoni of Italy, whose gold medal at age 19, at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, set the previous mark.

Austrians Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel won silver and bronze, respectively. Schild won her second straight Olympic silver, successfully defending her second-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Marie-Michèle Gagnon was the top Canadian in ninth place, 2.84 seconds off the pace set by Shiffrin.

The Lac-Etchemin, Que., native improved upon her 10th-place position from her first run and earned her first Olympic finish of the Sochi Games. She failed to finish the three races she entered in these Games prior to the slalom event.

The 24-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder during her first race in Sochi, and also failed to finish in super-G and giant slalom. 

Brittany Phelan was the other Canadian in the top-30 from the first run and skied to a 15th-place finish. Phelan, of Ste Agathe Des Monts, Que., was making her Olympic debut at age 22, and improved upon her 17th-place standing from the first run.

Defending Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch slipped up in the final moments of her second run and slid off the podium in fourth.

Shiffrin, who won the World Cup title last season as a 17-year-old, won three of the first five slalom races she competed in, also earning a silver.

She was able to navigate the difficult, and slushy, course conditions with ease, but plenty of her fellow competitors fell victim to the challenging layout, including two Canadians who were knocked out of contention on their first runs. 

The course was laid out by Canadian Jim Pollock.

Erin Mielzynski, of Guelph, Ont., had a solid run going but caught a tough break, straddling a gate on her first run and did not finish. 

Elli Terwiel, a slalom specialist from Sun Peaks, B.C., also had a disappointing DNF. The 24-year-old was making her Olympic debut.

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