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US skier Mikaela Shiffrin defends world slalom title in St Moritz

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St. Moritz (Switzerland) (AFP)

American Mikaela Shiffrin re-wrote the history books Saturday by laying down two near-perfect runs to convincingly win a third consecutive world slalom title.

The untouchable 21-year-old, who won giant slalom silver on Thursday, had dominated the first leg and went into the second with a 0.38sec lead on the field.

In brilliant sunshine which saw Shiffrin huddle under an umbrella for shade between runs, the American made no mistake on her second run, handing down a masterclass to again clock the fastest time for a combined total of 1min 37.27sec down the Suvretta course.

Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, who won gold in the last week's alpine combined event, claimed silver, at a distant 1.64sec, with Sweden's Frida Hansdotter taking bronze (+1.75) after silver in 2015 and bronze in 2013.

Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova, in third after the first run in her bid to win her country's first individual world championship medal, skied out midway down the course and when Holdener shot into the lead amid deafening support from a large home crowd, the pressure mounted.

But Shiffrin kept her cool to hand out a startling primer in slalom skiing down a course coincidentally set by her personal coach, Mike Day, chosen in a random draw of all coaches.

The last female skier to bag three consecutive slalom crowns was Germany's Christel Cranz, but that was back in 1937-39 when the world championships were much smaller, equipment used was nowhere near as cutting edge as it is today, and course-setting and preparation were not nearly as taxing as modern skiers face.

With her latest victory, Shiffrin becomes the seventh skier to have managed to win an individual event at three consecutive world championships after Cranz (twice), France's Marielle Goitschel, Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark, Switzerland's Erika Hess, Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt and fellow American Ted Ligety.

Shiffrin, who also won Olympic slalom gold in the Sochi Games, currently also tops the race for the overall World Cup crystal globe, with closest rival Lara Gut now ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in St Moritz.

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