It was a day of surprises at the Yongpyong Alpine Center for the Olympic Women’s slalom on Friday. Ultra-grippy snow and sunshine, although at first glance seem to be ideal racing conditions, proved to be quite the challenge for the women’s slalom field.

The odds-on favorite entering Friday’s slalom and riding high after capturing giant slalom gold on Thursday, American Mikaela Shiffrin had the eyes of the ski racing world on her once again. No woman has ever successfully defended an Olympic slalom title and Shiffrin was no different as the superstar faltered and finished a disappointing fourth in her hands-down best event.

Taking full advantage of Shiffrin’s missteps, 32-year-old Swede Frida Hansdotter raced her way to Olympic gold, skiing aggressive and tactical down the challenging Yongpyong slope. Finishing a slim 0.05 seconds behind Hansdotter for silver was Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and bronze went to another surprise of the day, Austria’s Katharina Gallhuber.

“I really went for it,” Hansdotter said of her performance. “I was standing at the start and saw it was windy and just said, ‘It’s so fun racing, so why don’t you give it a try?’ I was just trying to really ski fast second run.”

The secret to Hansdotter’s success? A smile. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Christian Walgram

Hansdotter has finished in second place no less than 17 times in World Cup slalom throughout a career that has spanned across the reigns of two slalom superstars — Austria’s Marles Schild and, of course, Shiffrin. After years of patiently waiting for her opportunity to shine, the Swede did it on the biggest stage imaginable.

“Mikaela is such a talented skier and she did so good yesterday (in the GS) also, but for sure it’s nice for me to beat her for once because she’s been beating me so many times so I’m really happy about this,” she continued. “It’s amazing. I love ski racing and I try to do what I love and ski as good as I can and put away the pressure and just enjoy my day and that’s what I did today. I was really standing at the start with a smile on my face, so that was the winning thing for me today.”

Holdener was feeling the pressure on Friday as the Swiss hopes for a women’s medal in the tech events rested squarely on her. Also someone who has played second-fiddle to Shiffrin a number of times in the past, Holdener would have preferred gold, but will happily take a silver home to Switzerland.

“I had a lot of pressure on me, I was the last one on top,” she said. “I knew what could happen but I also knew what could go wrong. If you are the last one on the start and you know you can win or get a medal, it’s not that easy to bring it home. I didn’t ski as good as I could in the second run. My legs weren’t that fast.”

Gallhuber, on the other hand, has yet to finish higher than fifth in a World Cup in her young career. Only 20-years-old, the Austrian set the fastest second-run time and is definitely a name to watch in the coming years as another potential challenger to Shiffrin’s slalom dominance.

“I can’t believe it,” Gallhuber said after the race. “I am speechless. I did not expect it. I have not been on the podium before. It feels like a dream, I hope it’s real. I have no words for this moment. My second run was really good. I stood on the start and thought, ‘All in,’ because I was really far behind.”

Although the podium did not include Shiffrin this Olympics, she’ll be back. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Christian Walgram

For Shiffrin, pre-race nerves got the best of her as she was spotted vomiting behind the start tent before her first run. Shiffrin’s skiing wasn’t necessarily bad, in fact, it was quite good, but certainly lacked the trademark Shiffrin oomph that we have grown so accustomed to seeing over the past several years.

“Disappointed for sure,” Shiffrin shared. “I didn’t really feel like myself today. I did a lot of training runs, a lot of free skiing, I was trying to get my really good feeling back but it just wasn’t there today to ski the aggressive way I need to to be worthy of a medal. There are a lot of reasons. It’s hard to put the blame on any one thing, there are a lot of things that come together to make it so I don’t feel really good or feel the way I did today, it’s just one of those things. It’s life. You live and you learn. Somebody has to be in fourth place, it’s OK.”

It’s all too easy to just say that Shiffrin did not live up to expectations on Friday, but you’d be missing the bigger picture entirely. At only 22-years-old, there’s still a lot of very fast skiing that Shiffrin has in store for us. You can count on that.

After Shiffrin for the Americans was Megan McJames in 36th place and Alice Merryweather in 42nd. Unfortunately, Resi Stiegler did not finish her first run and is currently undergoing further evaluation for a suspected left-knee injury. A diagnosis has not been made available at the time of publishing.

The women are now set to race super-G on Saturday, Feb. 17.


Top 10

  1. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
  2. Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
  3. Katharina Gallhuber (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  4. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  5. Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE) – Head/Head/Head
  6. Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
  7. Bernadette Schild (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
  8. Katharina Liensberger (AUT) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
  9. Chiara Costazza (ITA) – Dynastar/Lange/Look
  10. Irene Curtoni (ITA) – Rossignol/Lange/Look

Official Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  7  505679 HANSDOTTER Frida 1985 SWE  49.09  49.54  1:38.63  0.00
 2  1  516280 HOLDENER Wendy 1993 SUI  48.89  49.79  1:38.68  +0.05  0.37
 3  15  56367 GALLHUBER Katharina 1997 AUT  50.12  48.83  1:38.95  +0.32  2.34
 4  4  6535237 SHIFFRIN Mikaela 1995 USA  49.37  49.66  1:39.03  +0.40  2.92
 5  5  506146 SWENN LARSSON Anna 1991 SWE  49.29  50.32  1:39.61  +0.98  7.15
 6  2  425771 HAVER-LOESETH Nina 1989 NOR  49.75  50.41  1:40.16  +1.53  11.17
 7  6  56032 SCHILD Bernadette 1990 AUT  49.89  50.29  1:40.18  +1.55  11.32
 8  18  56388 LIENSBERGER Katharina 1997 AUT  50.43  50.14  1:40.57  +1.94  14.16
 9  9  296354 COSTAZZA Chiara 1984 ITA  49.83  50.77  1:40.60  +1.97  14.38
 10  14  296509 CURTONI Irene 1985 ITA  51.15  49.89  1:41.04  +2.41  17.59
 11  17  106961 MIELZYNSKI Erin 1990 CAN  51.83  49.66  1:41.49  +2.86  20.88
 12  19  506341 WIKSTROEM Emelie 1992 SWE  49.76  51.81  1:41.57  +2.94  21.46
 13  3  705423 VLHOVA Petra 1995 SVK  51.12  50.46  1:41.58  +2.95  21.54
 14  10  515997 FEIERABEND Denise 1989 SUI  51.93  49.80  1:41.73  +3.10  22.63
 15  29  107427 ST-GERMAIN Laurence 1994 CAN  50.94  50.86  1:41.80  +3.17  23.14
 16  11  516284 GISIN Michelle 1993 SUI  51.43  50.42  1:41.85  +3.22  23.51
 17  8  705287 VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika 1984 SVK  51.46  50.61  1:42.07  +3.44  25.11
 18  24  565320 FERK Marusa 1988 SLO  51.29  50.79  1:42.08  +3.45  25.19
 19  16  206536 WALLNER Marina 1994 GER  51.12  50.98  1:42.10  +3.47  25.33
 20  26  196806 NOENS Nastasia 1988 FRA  51.84  50.44  1:42.28  +3.65  26.65
 21  37  565471 HROVAT Meta 1998 SLO  51.93  50.57  1:42.50  +3.87  28.25
 22  20  425981 SKJOELD Maren 1993 NOR  51.44  51.18  1:42.62  +3.99  29.13
 23  28  296259 MOELGG Manuela 1983 ITA  51.40  51.35  1:42.75  +4.12  30.08
 24  21  565401 BUCIK Ana 1993 SLO  52.09  50.82  1:42.91  +4.28  31.24
 25  41  426187 LYSDAHL Kristin 1996 NOR  52.12  50.90  1:43.02  +4.39  32.05
 26  31  315187 IGNJATOVIC Nevena 1990 SRB  52.10  51.38  1:43.48  +4.85  35.41
 27  30  107583 REMME Roni 1996 CAN  52.43  51.18  1:43.61  +4.98  36.35
 28  40  665009 SHKANOVA Maria 1989 BLR  52.50  51.71  1:44.21  +5.58  40.73
 29  34  155728 DUBOVSKA Martina 1992 CZE  52.90  51.87  1:44.77  +6.14  44.82
 30  36  25096 GUTIERREZ Mireia 1988 AND  53.22  52.84  1:46.06  +7.43  54.24
 31  39  385092 KOMSIC Andrea 1996 CRO  53.41  52.85  1:46.26  +7.63  55.70
 32  32  485802 TKACHENKO Ekaterina 1995 RUS  53.22  53.33  1:46.55  +7.92  57.82
 33  42  225518 GUEST Charlie 1993 GBR  55.44  52.82  1:48.26  +9.63  70.30
 34  51  705394 KANTOROVA Barbara 1992 SVK  54.62  53.81  1:48.43  +9.80  71.54
 35  57  95050 KIRKOVA Maria 1986 BUL  54.87  54.14  1:49.01  +10.38  75.77
 36  43  538284 MCJAMES Megan 1987 USA  54.22  55.06  1:49.28  +10.65  77.75
 37  44  555018 GASUNA Lelde 1990 LAT  54.50  54.81  1:49.31  +10.68  77.96
 38  50  65075 DECROIX Marjolein 1992 BEL  55.91  54.80  1:50.71  +12.08  88.18
 39  56  685018 TSIKLAURI Nino 1993 GEO  55.88  55.74  1:51.62  +12.99  94.83
 40  47  65117 VANREUSEL Kim 1998 BEL  55.90  55.96  1:51.86  +13.23  96.58
 41  48  255357 EINARSDOTTIR Freydis Halla 1994 ISL  56.49  56.66  1:53.15  +14.52  106.00
 42  55  6535600 MERRYWEATHER Alice 1996 USA  58.68  54.89  1:53.57  +14.94  109.06
 43  63  785007 JANUSKEVICIUTE Ieva 1994 LTU  57.30  57.25  1:54.55  +15.92  116.22
 44  62  235110 RALLI Sophia 1988 GRE  57.95  57.49  1:55.44  +16.81  122.71
 45  68  695108 KNYSH Olha 1995 UKR  59.07  58.93  1:58.00  +19.37  141.40
 46  61  197848 ARBEZ Tess 1997 IRL  59.47  59.00  1:58.47  +19.84  144.83
 47  60  945000 CLERC Mialitiana 2001 MAD  1:01.24  59.03  2:00.27  +21.64  157.97
 48  77  395022 JOGEVA Anna Lotta 1999 EST  1:00.90  59.61  2:00.51  +21.88  159.72
 49  73  265028 ABBASI Forough 1993 IRI  1:02.56  1:01.50  2:04.06  +25.43  185.64
 50  67  959300 PELLEGRIN Elise 1991 MLT  1:05.18  58.90  2:04.08  +25.45  185.79
 51  71  675035 GRIGOROVA Mariya 1996 KAZ  1:02.49  1:01.88  2:04.37  +25.74  187.90
 52  75  345107 MOHBAT Natacha 1996 LBN  1:06.73  1:05.31  2:12.04  +33.41  243.89
 53  74  245076 MAROTY Mariann Mimi 1998 HUN  1:09.95  1:02.83  2:12.78  +34.15  249.30
 54  78  335024 KIM Ryon-Hyang 1992 PRK  1:18.17  1:19.81  2:37.98  +59.35  433.26
Did not finish 2nd run
 12  206279 GEIGER Christina 1990 GER  51.44
 22  197616 ALPHAND Estelle 1995 SWE  51.34
 27  197319 BAUD MUGNIER Adeline 1992 FRA  52.65
 38  155727 CAPOVA Gabriela 1993 CZE  52.96
 45  385106 STIMAC Ida 2000 CRO  54.14
Did not finish 1st run
 13  206355 DUERR Lena 1991 GER
 23  537772 STIEGLER Resi 1985 USA
 25  56217 BRUNNER Stephanie 1994 AUT
 33  307493 ANDO Asa 1996 JPN
 35  225525 TILLEY Alex 1993 GBR
 46  325124 KANG Youngseo 1997 KOR
 49  325119 GIM Sohui 1996 KOR
 52  705462 MORAVCIKOVA Sona 1999 SVK
 53  35131 GASTALDI Nicol 1990 ARG
 54  299276 BASSINO Marta 1996 ITA
 58  715171 MUZAFERIJA Elvedina 1999 BIH
 59  415232 ROBINSON Alice 2001 NZL
 64  125038 KONG Fanying 1996 CHN
 65  959003 NG Arabella Caroline Yili 2001 HKG
 66  245080 HOZMANN Szonja 2001 HUN
 69  298936 MEHILLI Suela 1994 ALB
 70  315226 VUJICIC Jelena 2001 MNE
 72  525085 CARIKCIOGLU Ozlem 1994 TUR
 76  516455 SCHENKEL Alexia Arisarah 1996 THA
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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
- A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American honors in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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