Mikaela Shiffrin: Youngest Women's Slalom World Champion in 39 Years

American slalom skier Mikaela Shiffrin, 17, took gold at the Alpine World Championships in Schlaming, Austria on Saturday, making her the youngest women’s slalom world champion in 39 years.

Shiffrin, born in Vail, emerged from relative obscurity this season by winning three World Cup slalom events prior to claiming the overall.

In Saturday’s race, Shiffrin trailed Frida Hansdotter of Sweden and Tanya Poutiainen of Finland after run 1. Her second run turned in a winning time of 1:39.85 seconds, 0.22 seconds faster than eventual silver medalist Michaela Kirchgasser of Austria and 0.26 seconds ahead of Hansdotter.

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“I keep saying it, I keep thinking it. It doesn’t make sense,” she exclaimed afterward.

Shiffrin’s gold was the fourth for the US Ski team at the Championships. She cited Ted Ligety’s victory in the the men’s Super-G, super-combined and GS, as inspirational.

Highly regarded among her American teammates, Shiffrin enjoyed the support of former Olympic downhiller Julia Mancusso.

“Not bad for a teenager! Congrats,” Mancuso tweeted.

Crossing the finish line before of a crowd of 30,000, Shiffrin embraced runner-up Kirchgasser several times while her parents Jeff and Eileen Shiffrin hugged in the stands.

“It’s such a crazy day. It’s so emotional … I don’t know yet, I can’t feel yet. It’s amazing.”

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