Slalom star Pärson finally gets her gold

Having won the last two overall World Cup titles, Anja Pärson was one of the favourites for medals in Turin. She had won a silver and bronze in 2002 and now sought a gold.

But it didn't come easily. Her first event – the downhill – saw Pärson take bronze, but she was some way behind the gold medallist Michaela Dorfmeister. Three days later came the combined event, with Pärson in fourth place after the slalom runs. She improved in the downhill and took the lead with her final run, but it was not quite good enough for victory and, once again, she had to be content with a bronze medal.

She now had four Olympic medals, but, however impressive her haul, she didn't have a gold. Like many great athletes, that was the one she now really wanted.

Her attention turned to the slalom. Four years before, she had finished the event in third position, but had been a second behind Janica Kostelić after a really disappointing second run.

Since then, Pärson had won two overall world cup titles, but Kostelić had won the combined four days before. The head-to-head battle looked an enthralling prospect. One of these women, surely, would take gold.

Conditions varied. The first run was held under cloudy skies; the second was held at night, with light snow and fog making the course a real challenge. Pärson took the lead on the first run with a superb ski, nearly half a second quicker than any other athlete and way ahead of Kostelić, who was back in fifth. Pärson didn't touch those heights second time around, but her 46.66secs run was good enough to secure a first gold medal.