YANQING (REUTERS) - Sweden's Sara Hector produced a stunning display of controlled aggression to win the gold medal in a dramatic women's giant slalom at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Monday (Feb 7).
Italy's Federica Brignone took the silver medal and Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami the bronze after defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin was among 19 racers who failed to finish their first run.
Hector, this season's World Cup leader in the discipline, was fastest down the course dubbed "The Ice River" in her first run and posted a combined time of 1 minute, 55.69 seconds, to finish 0.28 seconds clear of the experienced Brignone.
The Swede held her nerve despite the race being halted for about 15 minutes before she started her second run, after American Nina O'Brien crashed near the finish line.
"Crazy. I'm so proud, I can't put it into words," Hector said.
"I really tried to push it and give it all I got. It's just amazing.
“I don’t know how to describe (my emotions). It’s been so much all day. I’ve been so nervous. It’s so much feeling, it’s crazy. It’s for sure a lot of joy.”
O'Brien was treated by medics in the finish area before being carried off on a stretcher, with a US team spokesperson confirming that she was "alert and responsive".
O'Brien was not the only skier to lose control on a day that served up plenty of spills.
American Shiffrin failed to negotiate the first run and 11 skiers, including O'Brien and French hope Tessa Worley, crashed or missed gates in the second, although O'Brien was the only one seriously injured, with a Reuters witness reporting she went down hugging her leg in the finish area.