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LIENZ, Austria (AP) - American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin led a women's World Cup slalom after the first run Sunday, positioning herself for a record fifth victory of the calendar year.
In an increasingly heavy rain, Shiffrin was slowed by a mistake as she almost skied out four gates from the finish but recovered to finish in 56.16 seconds, 0.22 faster than Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden. Kathrin Zettel of Austria came 0.25 back in third.
"I felt really good and the snow was awesome, so all good," Shiffrin said, adding she would aim to go "maybe a little bit faster" in the second run.
At 18 years and 291 days old, the American can become the youngest female skier to win five World Cup slaloms in one calendar year, beating the record set by Janica Kostelic. The Croatian standout was 67 days older when she won five slaloms in 2000.
Shiffrin has been dominating slalom racing in 2013, winning the world title and the World Cup discipline title.
Two years ago, Shiffrin earned her first career podium finish in Lienz. On Saturday, she came third in the GS.
"I feel happy from yesterday," Shiffrin said. "I had a good night of sleep and some good food."
Four-time World Cup slalom champion Marlies Schild, who won the previous event in Courchevel, France, trailed Shiffrin by 0.69 in sixth. The Austrian is chasing her 35th slalom victory - more than any other female skier.
"I struggled a bit," said Schild, who missed most of last season because of a knee injury. "I didn't let the skis go. That's because I haven't done a lot of races recently."
Defending overall World Cup champion Tina Maze of Slovenia avoided obvious mistakes but finished 1.58 off the lead in 14th, and Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany came fourth after a strong finish with 0.54 to make up in the second run.
It is always nice to see a young fresh face downhill skier, especially if it is an American, to win the Women's Giant Slalom race. Go Mikaela and the Stars & Stripes!!!
Fantastic to see such a young ski racer with so much promise! Good luck at the Olympics M!
She need to watch sticking her tongue out. To easy to accidently bite it off if she hits something. She needs a mouth piece (no pun intended).
Too easy for you to bite off your tongue perhaps (would probably prevent you from cheap-talking excessively), but this woman knows when to stick it out and when not.
Good for her. Thoughts a prayers for her.
Lindsay who? (just kidding, just said that for effect.)
Just what we need: More effect :-(
Wow, to be young and fearless again.... I hope she stays healthy and wins it all, we need a new Olympic hero.
What the hell is with these girls these days sticking out their tongues for pictures?
Michael Jordan did it all the time. Did you complain about him too?
When Michael Jordan was playing I don't think I had a computer - haha. But at least back then I had a life so I would have just been complaining out loud - not typing it out.
Exactly what I was going to say! If she skies like that she better learn ASL.
ASL - English translation please. Ralph.
Awesome! Incredible gymnastic ability, strength, balance and fearlessness. As an ex-racer I am so impressed!
Needs to avoid the Miley poses but otherwise go for it and win that fifth one.