SOCHI, Russia -- U.S. slalom superstar Mikaela Shiffrin was in prime position for a gold medal after a blazing first run Friday at Rosa Khutor.
The 18-year-old from Vail, Colo., starting with the No. 6 bib, finished her run in 52.62 seconds, nearly a half-second faster than defending Olympic slalom champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.
"I was pretty relaxed, actually," Shiffrin said. "Thank goodness, because there were a couple points throughout the day were i was like, 'Oh my God, here you are.' But no, I was relaxed in the start and that was awesome."
Shiffrin is the top-ranked slalom skier in the World Cup and also the defending world champion. She made her Olympic debut Tuesday, finishing fifth in the women's giant slalom.
Shiffrin's .49 lead over Hoefl-Riesch is comparable to Ted Ligety's huge .93 first-run lead in Wednesday's GS. Ligety ended up winning the gold.
The top slalom skiers receive random starting spots from one through seven. Shiffrin held her lead through the first 15 racers. There are 88 competitors in the race, but there are not many contenders after the first 20.
The second race is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. PST. Shiffrin is looking to become the youngest female to win the Olympic slalom competition.
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