Slalom princess Shiffrin in race for world medal

Sim Sim Wissgott
US alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin attends a news conference with members of the US Ski Team as part of the 2013 Ski World Championships in Schladming, Austria on February 12, 2013. Shiffrin put in a fast first run in the women's slalom to put her in prime position for a podium in her first ever World Ski Championships

US slalom princess Mikaela Shiffrin put in a fast first run in the women's slalom here Saturday to put her in prime position for a podium in her first ever World Ski Championships.

The 17-year-old revelation clocked the third fastest time to finish 0.18sec off Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, who led after the first run with a time of 50.41sec.

Finland's Tanja Poutiainen, Shiffrin's elder by 15 years, was second fastest at 0.17sec.

Shiffrin shot to the top of the slalom World Cup rankings this year in her second season, with three wins in Are, Zagreb and Flachau and was a favourite to win a medal on Saturday.

In her first world championship race on Thursday, the teenage sensation finished an impressive sixth in the giant slalom.

The women's slalom, which is decided over two runs with the times of both runs added for a final result, was set up as a duel between young Shiffrin and returning slalom queen Marlies Schild of Austria.

Schild, a four-time slalom World Cup winner and Olympic silver medallist, made a surprise comeback from injury for the world championships, finished at 1.43sec.

The 31-year-old, who was feared out of the season after tearing a ligament in her right knee in late December, was beaming in the finish area after her first competition in months.

"I haven't done any races for a while now so that impacted a little on my run," she said.

"There's no reason to be disappointed. I just didn't quite feel the course today. Now I will try to be faster in the second run."

Already ahead of the race, Schild had made her goals clear: "It's a gift for me to be able to be here. Anything else is just an added bonus."

Shiffrin was also excited to race against one of her idols, saying that without the Austrian this season, "there was that piece missing because Marlies, she's the slalom queen".

"It's a complete field now," she said ahead of the race.

Hansdotter, who has accumulated four second-place finishes in World Cup races this season, close behind Shiffrin, was looking to capitalise on her lead however.

"I have to go full out. I tried to do a good first run and it was fun coming down with the lead," said the 27-year-old, who came eighth in the slalom at the last world championships in Garmisch in 2011.

"But it's close behind me so I really need to go for it," she said.

The second run was scheduled for 1:30pm (1230GMT).