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Mikaela Shiffrin’s focus on giant slalom improvement going into Alpine skiing season

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin of the US reacts after the women giant slalom race at the Alpine ski World Cup finals on March 17, 2013 in Lenzerheide. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

American Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, became the youngest women’s world champion and World Cup season champ in the slalom since 1974 last winter. She’s setting her sights on a different discipline going into this winter.

Shiffrin recently reiterated her plans to improve in the giant slalom, the Alpine skiing event most similar to slalom. Of course, she will still race slalom, but it’s now clear she could be a multiple medal threat in Sochi.

“I want to get faster in GS just this whole season,” Shiffrin told NBC 9 News from a Whole Foods in Cherry Creek, Colo., before leaving for training in Chile last week. “My focus for Chile is kind of to get some speed in GS and see where I can take that.”

Shiffrin previously said she wouldn’t dabble in the speed events -- downhill, super-G -- until after the 2014 Olympics. Shiffrin strapped on downhill skis for the first time in her life in April and considered doing super combined (one slalom run and one speed event run) but decided against it.

She enters the Olympic season as the clear favorite in the slalom. She has less experience in the giant slalom, where she finished sixth at worlds in February, her best-ever finish in the discipline at a worlds or a World Cup race.

The first World Cup race this season happens to be a giant slalom in Solden, Austria, on Oct. 26. The giant slalom is overall World Cup champion Tina Maze‘s specialty. She won five of nine World Cup races last season and silver at the World Championships, being upset by France’s Tessa Worley.

The Alpine skiing schedule at the Olympics begins with the super combined (Feb. 10), then goes to speed events downhill (Feb. 12) and super-G (Feb. 15). It wraps up with Shiffrin’s events, the giant slalom (Feb. 18) and the slalom (Feb. 21), two days before the closing ceremony.

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