After a number of weather delays shuffled her Olympic schedule, 22-year-old American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin finally hit the slopes Thursday in Pyeongchang - and she delivered a gold-medal winning performance in the giant slalom. Making the wait oh-so worth it, Shiffrin gave the people what they asked for and rode off with gold in the giant slalom on day six of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Shiffrin will wrap this new gold medal in a sock, same as she always does. "We're just going to get her a day of rest and then go do the downhill and combined".
The shiniest Olympic moments come wrapped in small packages, like the instant Shiffrin realized no competitor could beat her in the giant slalom, and collapsed on the ground, covering her mouth with one hand, as if all the joy inside her might spill out on the snow.
As usual, Shiffrin took a between-run nap.
But ahead of her gold medal race, there were nerves of steel and celebration as she accepted the applause of scores of fans waving the Stars and Stripes. "Oh my gosh, last night I was like, 'Are we ever gonna race?' No, it's really nice, and it's fair today, which is really, really important, especially at the Olympics".
At the 2014 Sochi Games, Shiffrin won the slalom crown at age 18. She stood in the middle and smiled, putting her arms around her two fellow medal winners.
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Shiffrin roared to a 0.39-second victory with a blazing second run. So what did Shiffrin do to stay chill while waiting on a shot to determine her Olympic fate? "She wanted this medal, and we could see it". The parking lots filled hours before the first run, and while some spectators scrambled eggs and sipped flasks at their vehicle fenders, others hustled straight to the grandstand to get a good view of Mikaela Shiffrin, the 21-year-old national phenom.
Shiffrin's mother said skipping the Super-G isn't a big deal, however. But Shiffrin and her technical ski brethren awoke Thursday to sun rays spraying across a sparkling course.
Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel won silver, 0.39 behind Shiffrin's combined time of 2:20.02.
"The conditions are great, the weather is lovely, and it's a pleasure to be skiing today", Shiffrin told reporters after her first run.
"It was my 15 seconds to let it all out", Shiffrin said, "and now I've got to focus on tomorrow".
And if you thought skiing was just a race to speed down the mountain, think again. "It was certainly not normal preparation but I also knew that going into these Olympics that it's not normal races, it's not normal preparations, so I have to be prepared for anything". "What you saw there from anybody, it wasn't really a good depiction of what we can all do". "To me, it was far more free".