SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. (AP) - Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin failed to finish the first leg of the slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships, and Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada won the title by a hundredth of a second on Saturday.
Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, Colo., became the youngest slalom champion in Winter Games history last month in Russia, then wrapped up a second consecutive World Cup title in that event. She also won the U.S. nationals giant slalom on Thursday.
But she made a mistake late in Saturday’s opening run.
“I felt like I just got going a little bit too fast and I didn’t move my feet quick enough. In inspection, I saw this section of the course, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you can let it rip there. The finish is in sight.’ So I let it go. I just let it go a little bit too much and got a little bit out of balance,” said Shiffrin, who turned 19 on March 13. “I’m bummed that I don’t get a second run.”
Athletes from other countries are allowed to enter races at the U.S. Alpine Championships, and Gagnon completed the two runs in 1 minute, 39.61 seconds. That allowed her to edge Resi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo., who led after the first leg but wound up second in 1:39.62. Lila Lapanja of Lake Tahoe was third in 1:41.70.
“It’s kind of the story of my season so far this year: A solid, OK, not-so-fast first run and a killing second run,” said Gagnon, who was 10th behind Shiffrin in the Sochi Olympics slalom after dislocating her left shoulder in an earlier race.
In the men’s slalom earlier Saturday, David Chodounsky of Crested Butte, Colo., won his second U.S. Alpine Championships title.
Chodounsky, who also won the slalom at nationals in 2009, finished with a two-run time of 1 minute, 35.82 seconds. He was in third place after the opening leg, but made up his deficit in the second leg.
“I was on the limit at a couple spots, but it worked out,” said Chodounsky, who failed to finish the slalom at the Sochi Olympics and finished 19th in the World Cup discipline standings.
First-run leader Tim Kelley of Starksboro, Vt., was next in 1:36.24. Will Brandenburg of Spokane, Wash., was third.
“This national title keeps eluding me, and I’m not happy about it,” Brandenburg said.