Shiffrin takes the first-run lead | VailDaily.com

Shiffrin takes the first-run lead

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Mikaela Shiffrin races down the course during the women’s slalom of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on Saturday at Beaver Creek. Shiffrin holds a 0.40-second lead over Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, going into today's second run at 2:15 p.m.
AP | AP

BEAVER CREEK — Mikaela Shiffrin has set the stage for Saturday’s women’s slalom at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Beaver Creek.

The Eagle-Vail native, running with bib No. 2, tore down Birds of Prey with a first-run time of 50.07 seconds. Shiffrin, the defending Worlds and Olympic gold medalist in slalom, holds a lead of 0.40 seconds over Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter and the Czech Republic’s Sarka Strachova (0.44 seconds) in third place.

The second run is at 2:15 p.m. today.

After the United States captured its first gold on Friday with Ted Ligety winning the men’s giant slalom, the pro-American crowd seemed in the mood for more. After Slovenian Tina Maze made a slight bobble on the face of Retail, which would drop her to fifth, 0.85 seconds off the pace, to open the slalom. And then Shiffrin roared down the course, going into green at the first split and increasing her lead down the hill.

Nothing is ever over in a slalom, but 0.4 seconds is a nice advantage to have in one’s pocket. Shiffrin, however, does face formidable opposition. Hansdotter leads the World Cup in slalom points ahead of Shiffrin, 420-379. Strachova won slalom gold at Worlds in 2007 in Are, Sweden.

Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser lies in wait in fourth, 0.77 seconds off the pace. She’s flashed her slalom skills already at these Championships with a bronze in the combined earlier this week. Maze, in fifth, is bidding for her fourth individual medal of these Worlds.

Canada’s Erin Mielzynski is a bit of a surprise in sixth, 0.85 seconds behind Shiffrin. Austria’s Carmen Thalmann, a 0.94 seconds out, is the last racer within one tick of the American leader.