Mikaela Shiffrin’s dream Olympics is fast turning into a nightmare.
The 26-year-old overall World Cup leader was disqualified from her second straight race on Wednesday morning after missing a gate early in the first run of the women’s slalom, her signature event, leaving her bid for potential record medal haul in tatters.
Shiffrin, the seventh racer out of the starting gate, was forced off line and nearly fell after one of her skis kicked out too wide on a turn around the fourth gate. The two-time Olympic champion then sat in the snow alongside the netting on the side of the hill with her head bowed in disbelief for several minutes as her rivals continued their runs down the steep technical course known as the Ice River, which on Wednesday was set by Shiffrin’s longtime personal coach Mike Day.
The shock result came two days after the American skied out during her first run of the giant slalom, which ended her Olympic title defense only seconds into her Beijing debut.
Shiffrin had failed to finish a race only twice in four years entering the Beijing Games and 13 times in a total of 228 starts across all disciplines at World Cup, Olympic and world championship events. Her last consecutive DNFs in technical races? Back in December 2011, when she was 16.
“Pretty awful,” a tearful Shiffrin said afterward in the mixed zone. “But I won’t feel awful forever. I just feel pretty low right now.”
She added: “I was pushing out of the start. I had full intentions of skiing as hard as I could. I slipped up a little bit on one turn and I just didn’t give myself room to make any kind of error like that. I was planning to go on the most aggressive line, the most challenging line to ski. But I also know it’s the fastest.”
Germany’s Lena Dürr was fastest down the track in a time of 52.17sec, a scant 0.03sec ahead of Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin. Sara Hector of Sweden, who won gold in Monday’s giant slalom, was 0.12sec off the pace in third.
Slovakian star Petra Vlhová, the six-time world champion medallist whose neck-and-neck race with Shiffrin atop the World Cup standings has captivated the sport all year, was 0.72sec back and in eighth. The second runs were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Shiffrin, whose three Olympic medals include gold in slalom in 2014 and in giant slalom in 2018, has said her plan is to race all five individual events in Beijing. Her next chance to make history as the first US alpine skier to win three Olympic golds will come Friday in the super-G, the speed race which she has never entered in two previous Winter Games but did win at the 2019 world championships. She will also have medal chances in Tuesday’s downhill and on 17 February in the alpine combined, where she took silver in 2018.
Since becoming the youngest Olympic slalom champion in history at the Sochi Games, Shiffrin has dominated the sport’s most technical discipline like no one before. She’s won more World Cup slalom races than any male or female skier (47), including four world championships and six World Cup discipline titles, which are awarded to skiers for sustained excellence over the course of an entire season.
But over time the Colorado native has blossomed from a specialist into the world’s best all-around skier, branching out into the speed events with success and becoming the only man or woman to win World Cup races in all six disciplines. Her 73 career wins on alpine skiing’s top circuit are third-most on the all-time leaderboard, trailing only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (86) and longtime US team-mate Lindsey Vonn (82).
Shiffrin’s failure to finish either of her races so far is the latest sour note in what’s been a bleak Beijing Olympics for Team USA to date.
The Americans’ longest-ever wait for their first gold at a Winter Games stretched to 31 events on Tuesday and several of their warmest medal contenders have finished off the podium entirely, among them defending Olympic champion Red Gerard (men’s snowboard slopestyle) and speed skaters Brittany Bowe (women’s 1500m) and Joey Mantia (men’s 1500m).
Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympic dream turning into nightmare after slalom exit | Mikaela Shiffrin appeared first on maserietv.com.