With Mikaela Shiffrin out of the picture due to a first-run crash, Sweden’s Sara Hector claimed the women’s giant slalom gold medal as the sun set over the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center Monday.
Hector, the top-ranked GS skier on the World Cup tour, led after the first run closed out the competition with all green lights to win her first Olympic medal – gold or otherwise – at her third Winter Games.
Hector, whose mother suffers from ALS, is the first Swede to become Olympic champion in the women’s GS since Pernilla Wiberg did so 20 years ago. Seven years ago, she was nearly forced to quit the sport after a devastating knee injury but worked her way back to a breakout season at the relatively senior age of 29.
“I really had some tough years there,” Hector reflected after the race. “This injury will never go away, I still feel it. But if you really love something you have the motivation to keep on going.”
Italy’s Federica Brignone took the silver medal .28 behind Hector, while Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami claimed the bronze, the second of her career.
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