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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 21 November, 2019
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Mikaela Shiffrin wins first gold as she begins quest to dominate the Winter Olympics

The American skiier has her sights set on multiple Olympic titles.

Image: Mark Reis

AMERICA’S MIKAELA SHIFFRIN overcame the “mental strain” of her quest to win multiple Olympic gold medals by storming to victory in the giant slalom on Thursday.

One down, several to go, for the 22-year-old, who produced an explosive second run to beat Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel to the title by 0.39 seconds, with Italian Federica Brignone claiming bronze.

Shiffrin sank to her knees and sobbed tears of joy before hugging her coach as Italy’s Manuela Moelgg, running last of the gold medal contenders, failed to reproduce the form that saw her pip the favourite in the morning.

“I told you guys you have to go for gold and I really went for it,” said Shiffrin, who has a short turnaround before coming back on Friday to defend the Olympic slalom title she won in Sochi four years ago.

“There were moments when I thought ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough to do this’,” added the American. “And then there were moments where I thought ‘Who cares? You gotta try, you’re here!’

“It’s an incredible feeling to know that my best effort is good enough.”

It was a clutch victory for Shiffrin after all the hype surrounding her assault on at least four of the women’s Olympic alpine skiing’s disciplines.

It was also a long time coming after poor weather played havoc with the schedule, postponing the women’s slalom as well as the giant slalom.

“It’s definitely been a mental strain the last couple of days — thinking we were going to race and then not racing,” said Shiffrin.

“To finally have the race actually happen today I was really hoping I could actually do it. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s crazy,” she added.

“To come to the Olympics and to charge like that — I risked it on the second run — it’s super-cool. We got the ball rolling and I’m really excited for tomorrow.”

Gusting winds that forced the postponements of the alpine skiing and the resulting delays could yet complicate Shiffrin’s quest to medal in potentially five events.

Shiffrin, who has racked up 41 World Cup wins, is expected to make a decision on how to approached the compressed schedule after Friday’s slalom, with the Super-G the following day.

The women’s downhill takes place next Wednesday with the combined event two days later.

© – AFP, 2018

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