Mikaela Shiffrin makes history with fourth straight slalom gold
(CNN) — Mikaela Shiffrin proved she really is in a league of her own in the slalom, becoming the first skier in history to win four consecutive world titles in the same event.
The American was third after the morning run, 0.15 seconds behind leader Wendy Holdener, but put in a faultless, textbook performance in her second run to finish almost a second ahead of home favorite Anna Swenn Larsson who took silver.
Swiss skier Holdener was last to go and challenge Shiffrin’s daunting time, but a costly error inside the opening seconds cost her any hope of a medal.
Following victory, Shiffrin revealed that she had been struggling with illness throughout both runs on Saturday.
“I think that I maybe have a small infection in my lungs,” Shiffrin told Eurosport after her win. “I’ve never had this before, it’s tough to breathe without coughing.
“But everyone around me today was helping to much to make it so that I could breathe when I needed to and then halfway down this run, I ran out of oxygen.
“I was just trying to fight to stay in the course if I could and do by very best but it was tough today. My skiing, especially in the second run, was really good, I was pushing really hard.
“I don’t want people to think, like: ‘Oh, I’m sick and I won.’ I mean, I was really pushing and maybe I couldn’t have done better if I was feeling normal.”
It means that Shiffrin, remarkably still only 23, adds the world title in Are to her previous slalom golds in Schladming, Beaver Creek and St. Moritz.
She admitted that the possibility of making history was the extra motivation she needed to power through.
“Today was something else,” she said of the occasion. “There’s been a lot going on these Championships since the Super-G win. I certainly had a lot of doubt today but in the most important moments it was okay.
“Like I said, my team was just spectacular this whole time to get me to toughen up and do the job. I’m really, really happy.”
The packed grandstand produced the loudest roar of the afternoon when home star Swenn Larsson crossed the line into second place, with just Holdener left to run, to guarantee herself a first ever World Championship medal.
The 27-year-old had never got close to troubling the slalom podium over the years but, in front of a capacity home crowd, bagged herself a silver in perfect circumstances on home snow.
Slovak skier Petra Vlhova completed to podium to add slalom bronze to the gold she won in giant slalom.