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Alpine skiing: US teen Shiffrin breezes into world 6th place

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Teenage debutante Mikaela Shiffrin stormed into an impressive sixth place in the world championships giant slalom on Thursday, despite it not being her favoured event.

But the 17-year-old US racer, who has shot to the top of slalom World Cup rankings this season with three wins in Are, Zagreb and Flachau, was typically cool about the achievement, admitting that she was not even nervous before the start.

"(It feels) really good! I had a lot fun today," she said. "I think I skied well and I know where I can improve so it's always a good feeling coming out of a day knowing that you can be better but you did well.

"My training's been fast, so I knew that it was down there somewhere but I just had to pull it out on race day and I pulled it out in some sections today. But it still could be better."

Shiffrin finished fifth in the first run, just behind favourites Tessa Worley -- who eventually took the world title -- Tina Maze, Kathrin Zettel and Anna Fenninger.

A ninth fastest time in the second run then pushed her back to sixth place overall.

But it was still an impressive feat for the teenager's first ever world championship race.

"I didn't really have any expectations, I just wanted to ski my training and so far it's going pretty well," she said, as she prepared to compete in the slalom on Saturday, where she will be one of the main medal contenders.

"Every race, whether I do poorly or do well, I always want more. I'm going to be looking for a lot but we'll see what happens."

Shiffrin added: "It felt different than a normal World Cup start because I had really good training and had a lot of confidence going into the race.

"But in the end, it was just me, my skis and red and blue gates. It was loud but it helps me get down because the crowd has so much energy.

"I feel a little bit of pressure but it doesn't distract me. I don't let it bother me.

"It's just racing and I've done it so many times that I can't possibly be disappointed. It's the best GS result of my career and I'm really happy about that."

The US team were dealt a hammerblow when speed queen Lindsey Vonn sustained a season-ending knee and leg injury in the worlds' opening super-G last week.

But Ted Ligety stepped up to the plate with two golds in the men's super-G and super-combined, which allied with a super-G bronze from Julia Mancuso to propel the United States to second in the medals table behind France.

Shiffrin will be looking to capitalise on her youthful exuberance and technical ability to push the US team back to the top come Saturday's slalom.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130214/alpine-skiing-us-teen-shiffrin-breezes-world-6th-place