Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Gold in the Giant Slalom After Finally Making Her 2018 Olympic Debut

gerald February 14, 2018

She’s the golden girl once again.

Star racer Mikaela Shiffrin grabbed gold in the women’s alpine skiing giant slalom at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Thursday afternoon (Wednesday evening stateside) after at last making her debut in these Games following multiple weather-related delays.

With that win Team USA’s total medal count rises to eight, including a sweep of all of the gold medals in the snowboarding events to date.

Although many viewers were frustrated that Shiffrin’s races were postponed twice this week — due to stiff wind — the athlete herself said she didn’t mind.

“Getting closer and closer to getting in the start gate!” she wrote on Instagram on Tuesday night. “It is important we have a fair race for all of the athletes and today’s conditions would definitely not have been fair.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

However, after her first run Wednesday evening, Shiffrin admitted to NBC that “with so many days of waiting, it’s kind of this pent-up energy and I felt like I got some of that out first run.”

Although she was in second place after her opponents completed their first runs — finishing 0.20 seconds behind Manuela Moelgg of Italy — she said she was focused going into the run.

“It’s the Olympics — you go for gold,” she said. “I’m going to be going for it.”

And so she did: Following her second run, her final time of 2:20.02 pushed her in front of Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel (silver) and Italy’s Federica Brignone (bronze).

The giant slalom run was Shiffrin’s first chance to medal in a total of five runs in Korea and her first since winning Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. In those Games, she became the youngest slalom gold medalist ever, at just 18 years old. Shiffrin competed in giant slalom four years ago, too, placing fifth.

On Friday in Korea, she will compete in her specialty — the slalom — where her performances have already led many to call the young skier the best-ever athlete in the event.

The 22-year-old Shiffrin is the first woman to win three consecutive world slalom titles in 78 years and often gets compared with fellow American Lindsey Vonn, the most decorated female ski racer of all time.

RELATED: Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Wants to Remain a Down-to-Earth Dynamo as She Chases Olympic Gold 

Shiffrin’s parents watched intently as she competed and have been instrumental in her success.

Unlike many young athletes competing with her as part of Team USA, Shiffrin is generally quiet on social media, and told PEOPLE before leaving for Pyeongchang that she wants to remain as down-to-earth as possible.

“I’m still going into these Games feeling star-struck by all of my competitors,” she said, “and I’m the same type of person to just keep my head down and just go do my race, do my thing and then see what happens.”



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