Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) - American Mikaela Shiffrin got off to a dream start in her quest to win multiple gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics by storming to victory in the giant slalom on Thursday.
The 22-year-old, who won slalom gold in Sochi four years ago, produced an explosive second run to beat Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel to the title by 0.39 seconds as Italian Federica Brignone took bronze.
Shiffrin sank to her knees and sobbed tears of joy before hugging her coaches as Italy's Manuela Moelgg, running last of the title contenders, failed to reproduce the form that saw her pip the favourite in the morning.
"I don't know how to explain it. It's crazy. There's so much emotion," Shiffrin said.
"To come to the Olympics after some tough races on the World Cup circuit and to charge like that -- I risked it on the second run -- it's super-cool."
It was a clutch win for Shiffrin after all the hype in the build-up to the Games surrounding her assault on at least four of the women's alpine skiing's disciplines.
It was also a long time coming after poor weather caused havoc with the schedule earlier this week.
Shiffrin quickly clawed back the two tenths of a second Moelgg gained on her after the first run with an aggressive ski and powered over the line in 1min 9.20sec for a combined time of 2:20.02.
Mowinckel, fourth after the morning run, came through to take silver as Brignone kept her first-run position to claim bronze.
Tessa Worley, the French world champion expected to push Shiffrin hard for the title, recovered from a disastrous first run that left her with no chance for gold to clock 1:09.00, but it was only enough to lift her to seventh.
Shiffrin, who has racked up 41 World Cup wins, was supposed to have completed her best two disciplines -- the slalom and giant slalom -- earlier this week.
But gusting winds that forced the postponements of the alpine skiing and the resulting delays could yet complicate her quest to medal in potentially five events.
Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, who captured gold in Vancouver and bronze in Sochi, just missed out on a medal as she produced a quick 1:09.15 that pushed her to fourth after being only eighth fastest in the morning.