ARE, Sweden (AP) — American Mikaela Shiffrin retained her World Cup slalom title on Saturday, adding to her Sochi Olympics gold medal in the discipline just five days before her 19th birthday.
Shiffrin led from start to finish, as she did at the Sochi Games two weeks ago. Shiffrin now has Olympic and world championship gold medals and two World Cup titles in her specialty event. "My first win was just amazing, it was the start of all of this," she said the 2013 slalom title. "It was finally in my mind, I felt like I could be a good ski racer at the World Cup level."
Shiffrin defended her title in a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 50.66 seconds. She finished 0.60 ahead of Swedes Maria Pietilae-Holmner and Anna Swenn-Larsson, who earned her first career podium finish in third.
Shiffrin, of Vail, Colo., earned 100 World Cup points for her fourth victory of the season to clinch the title. She moved 130 ahead of Frida Hansdotter of Sweden, who placed fourth, with one race remaining.
"I'm just really comfortable on slalom skis," Shiffrin said. "It feels so easy to me when I'm just loose and I let my skis go. It seems they find the finish for me, I don't have to work so hard." In a tight race for the overall World Cup title, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany retook the standings lead from Anna Fenninger of Austria, who doesn't race slalom.
Hoefl-Riesch placed seventh, trailing Shiffrin by 3.26, to earn 36 race points. She moved 29 ahead of Fenninger as she seeks to repeat her 2011 overall title, which she won by three points ahead of American Lindsey Vonn.
Second-run racers coped with steadily falling snow and poor visibility after morning sunshine lit the first-leg course. Shiffrin had the advantage of the second-leg gate-setting being designed by her personal coach on the U.S. team, Roland Pfeifer.
The final four races are scheduled next week at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Shiffrin's goal is to win a giant slalom race this season. "I know my giant slalom skiing is fast, fast enough to win," she said. "But I really have to do my best skiing."