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Mikaela Shiffrin Successfully Defends World Slalom Title

By Associated Press | Feb. 14, 2015, 6:43 p.m. (ET)

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the slalom at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on Feb. 14, 2015 in Beaver Creek, Colo.


BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin defended her slalom title at the world championships Saturday with a strong burst near the end of a choppy course.

Shiffrin finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 38.48 seconds, edging Frida Hansdotter of Sweden by 0.34 seconds. Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic earned bronze.

With Lindsey Vonn done for these championships, the 19-year-old Shiffrin, who's from nearby Eagle-Vail, slipped into the role of hometown favorite and didn't disappoint.

Leading after the first pass, Shiffrin fell behind in her final run, only to make up ground on the last few gates in softer snow. She didn't celebrate after finishing, almost in disbelief as the crowd cheered. Only later, when she clicked out of her skis, did the gravity of the moment start to fully sink in.

"It's pretty crazy now that I think about it," said Shiffrin, who earned the second gold medal of these championships for the Americans. "Just before my second run, I was starting to convince myself how much I really wanted to win this race. Some of that was good but then I was like, `Stop it. Stop that. It's about the process, it's about the turns.' I'm happy."

Shiffrin won the slalom world title two years ago in Austria. She also captured the Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Games.

By winning the slalom in her backyard, Shiffrin became the first female skier to do so at worlds since Italy's Deborah Compagnoni at Sestriere in 1997.

Slovenia's Tina Maze finished eighth. Still, it was a memorable championship for her as she earned two golds and a silver.

Starting 21st in the final run, Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia turned in the fastest time on a course set by her father. She had the lead until the final three came down the course, bumping her off the podium and into fourth.

She knew that Shiffrin was going to turn in an electric run.

"I took my backpack and was ready to leave," Zuzulova said. "I was so sure she would do that."

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Mikaela Shiffrin