Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won gold in the women's slalom on Friday, becoming the youngest woman to accomplish the feat in the history of the Winter Games at just 18 years old.

Shiffrin posted the top first run time of 52.62 seconds at Rosa Khutor to take a .49-second lead over defending gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany heading into the second run.

Shiffrin, the last of the top 30 skiers to take their final run, nearly lost control midway through her second run, but maintained her balance before flying down the remainder of the course to edge Austria's Marlies Schild by .53 seconds for gold.

A native of Vail, Colo., Shiffrin recorded a total time of 1 minute, 44.54 seconds to become the first American woman to find the podium in Olympic slalom since Barbara Cochran won gold at the 1972 Sapporo Games.

Friday's victory marked the culmination of a dominate past year in slalom for Shiffrin, who won gold at the 2013 world championships and also claimed the most recent World Cup season title in the discipline.

Schild's second run of 51.11 seconds served as the top overall time, but her total time of 1:45.07 forced her to settle for silver. The 32-year-old Austrian collected her fourth Olympic medal and third in the slalom after taking bronze in 2006 and silver in Vancouver four years ago.

Fellow Austrian Kathrin Zettel secured bronze with a total time of 1:45.35, while Hoefl-Riesch, who won gold in the super-combined on Feb. 10 and silver in the Super-G five days later, finished just outside of medal contention in fourth.