By Manuele Lang
SCHLADMING, Austria, Feb 16 (Reuters - Mikaela Shiffrin became one of Alpine skiing's youngest world champions when she won the women's slalom on Sunday at the age of 17 to continue an impressive performance by the United States.
Shiffrin, who has already won three slalom races on this season's World Cup circuit, was third fastest in the first run but then produced a typically aggressive performance in the second to take gold.
One month short of her 18th birthday, Shiffrin pipped Austria's Michaela Kirchgasser by 0.22 of a second to become the third youngest slalom world champion. Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, who led after the first run, was third.
"I can't believe what is happening to me here," Shiffrin reporters at the finish line.
"It has been quite a tough experience for me, especially this morning as I felt pretty tired prior to the race.
"I needed some time to find back my best concentration and ski the way I was hoping," added a tearful Shiffrin. "
"I guess I'll need some time to really understand the meaning of today's performance. Ask me again next year please." (Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by John Mehaffey)