Pyeongchang: Mikaela Shiffrin was edged off the podium in the defence of her Olympic slalom title on Friday as Frida Hansdotter put her history of near-misses to one side to claim victory.
Shiffrin, back in action just 24 hours after winning giant slalom gold, left herself too much to do after coming in fourth in the first leg, before which she vomited.
Shiffrin, also the three-time consecutive world slalom champion, eventually finished fourth overall, with Switzerland's Wendy Holdener taking silver and unheralded Austrian Katharina Gallhuber bronze.
"It's a really big bummer because I know how I have been skiing slalom all season long," said Shiffrin, who played down her initial concerns her vomiting might have been virus-related, instead putting it down to a bout of nerves.
"But I am really happy for the girls who did medal. I was fighting for the medal yesterday and I came out on the right side and I was fighting today, although not really in the way that I wanted to, and I came on the wrong side," the 22-year-old American said.
"Somebody has to be in fourth place, it's OK."
Hansdotter could have been forgiven for thinking that she might finish her career without a major medal.
Having made her World Cup debut in 2007, the 32-year-old Swede claimed her first victory on the circuit in Kranjska Gora in 2014 to snap a record eight runner-up finishes.
That win has been followed by three more slalom victories, once in Lienz and twice in Flachau, the last coming in January 2017.
This season has seen a familiar pattern— twice second and three times third for a total of 31 World Cup podiums.
Even at the world championships, she has proven to be a serial podium troubler, having won silver in 2015 and bronzes in 2013 and 2017.
Asked whether she was glad to have bucked the trend in Pyeongchang, Hansdotter said, "Yes, for sure!
"I'm super happy with my career. This win today is magic, it's a dream come true."
Shiffrin an inspiration
Hansdotter said Shiffrin, with 41 World Cup victories already under her belt, had been an inspiration.
"It's impressive what Mikaela's doing, how fast she can ski, that's a motivation for me. I want to ski as fast as her or even faster," she said.
"Today I'm standing on top, so for sure it's worth all the hard work.
"You really need to be on top to win races. There are a lot of good girls so if you're not skiing your best or fast you're not on the podium."
Hansdotter added that she had enjoyed a pre-race pep talk with Anja Paerson, who won Olympic slalom gold for Sweden in the 2006 Torino Games.
"Anja's a good friend of mine," Hansdotter said. "She told me to 'ski fast and do what you can'."
Paerson told AFP she was "really happy" for Hansdotter having finally hit the top.
"Finally she can get everything she needs to get out of a race and she gets there," said Paerson, a seven-time world gold medallist and twice a World Cup overall champion with 42 World Cup wins in her sparkling career.
"She had two complete runs. She played it really well."
Paerson added, "She's been so close on so many occasions. She's up there, she's always second behind Shiffrin."
The one thing that rankled Hansdotter, although she said she expected it, was the paltry turnout at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre, with the stands largely empty.
"It's for sure a little bit different," she said.
"But I think it's been like this at races in other Olympics, with not so many people, so that's something you know before you go. For sure it would have been more fun if there were more people.
"The best moment I had was in Schladming when there were so many people, and that was super nice," she said in reference to the legendary night slalom in Austrian resort which attracts crowds of 50,000.
Updated Date: Feb 16, 2018 18:32:58 IST