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There is no doubt now whom the U.S. media will choose as the fresh-faced star in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.It is Mikaela Shiffrin, 17, who became the youngest women’s Alpine skiing world champion since 1985 when she won Saturday’s slalom in Schladming, Austria.
In her debut at the senior worlds, the high schooler from Vail, Colo., came from third after the first run to beat Michaela Kirchgasser of Austria by .22 seconds.
When neither of the final two skiers could top her overall time, Shiffrin dropped to a crouch and leaned her head against her skis, as if stunned.
“I felt a little unbalanced coming out of the start but I gained momentum the whole way down,” she told reporters in the mixed zone. “I tend to leave the speed for the second run, so I guess today is no different.”
Shiffrin, a senior at Burke Mountain Academy, was among the favourites since she leads the World Cup circuit in slalom. But she skied the second run with the aggressiveness of someone with nothing to lose.
Her gold was the fourth for the U.S. team — three by Ted Ligety — with one event left. Even without mainstay Lindsey Vonn, who tore up her knee in the first women’s event, that is twice as many titles as Team USA ever has won at the worlds.
Shiffrin was sixth in the giant slalom earlier in the week. ___
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