Mikaela Shiffrin has become the first U.S. Alpine women’s skier to win gold at the Sochi Olympics. She dominated the women’s Slalom with a combined time of 1:44.54.
The victory is even sweeter for Shiffrin because the 18-year-old from Vail, Colorado is also officially the youngest women’s skier to ever win an olympic slalom, according to the Washington Post.
Her mother said that on top of general pressure and nerves faced by a young olympian and being the surprise favorite, Mikaela was also battling a cold from the Giant Slalom that was held Tuesday entirely in frigid rain.
“In general it’s nerve-wracking,” Mikaela’s mom Eileen Shiffrin said. “It just is. But she seemed in a good place when she went up there. But it’s funny. Nerves are funny. You can be fine one second and awful the next second. You never know when it’s going to creep in there.”
But Mikaela didn’t seem to be suffering from nerves as much as her mom thought she would. She beat out some pretty fierce competition with a confidence that can only be manned by an 18-year-old who knows what good is, and she’s it.
“I was pretty relaxed,” she said. “Thank goodness, because there are a couple points throughout the day where I was like, ‘Oh my God, here we go.’ But no, I was relaxed in the start, and that was awesome.”
That winning run was very nearly thwarted by a close call early on, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her left leg seemed to have a small revolt as she cruised down the mountain.
Her coach, Roland Pfeifer, said, “I thought it was over.”
To which Mikaela added, “That was scary,” she said. “I thought I was going off the course.”
But it wasn’t over, not by a long shot. She recovered and skied on to victory.
The win was welcome for the U.S. as Americans have generally owned Alpine Skiing, taking 12 medals between the Vancouver and Sochi Games. However, the Slalom has thus far escaped American athletes. Until now.
Image via Wikimedia Commons