BEIJING — Mikaela Shiffrin will need her team’s help if she wants to win medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Positioned to win his first medal in Beijing after finishing fifth in the downhill portion of the alpine combined, Shiffrin skied the slalom on Thursday. She lost her balance at the 10th gate and was unable to regain it, falling completely at the 12th gate.
Shiffrin’s American teammates Keely Cashman and Isabella Wright also skied. American Tricia Mangan finished 11th.
Shiffrin also had Did Not Finishes (DNF) in giant slalom and slalom, crashing out of the course after the fifth gate in the first run of each race.
“I don’t really understand. And I don’t know when I’ll have a lot of explanation,” Shiffrin said. “And I can’t explain to you how frustrated I am not knowing what I can learn from the day.”
The combined, which is a downhill and slalom race, with results based on overall time, was Shiffrin’s final individual event in Beijing. She was expected to challenge for multiple medals here, having won three in her previous two Games, but her best result was ninth in the super-G.
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Shiffrin still has one last chance for a medal. She said she plans to compete in the team event on Saturday, which features head-to-head races in a knockout bracket.
“I should probably quit,” Shiffrin joked. “But I’m going to go out and ski a team event (training) tomorrow and then we’ll do the team event.
“I literally have no idea why we keep coming back and doing this, especially after today,” she said. “But I’m going to come back tomorrow and ski some parallel GS’s because I’m such an idiot.”
After slalom and giant slalom, the combined was considered Shiffrin’s best race. She is the reigning world champion in this event and won a silver medal in the combined four years ago at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
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Though she races downhill sparingly — she’s only run four races in the past two years and hadn’t even put on her downhill skis for two months before Saturday’s first training run — Shiffrin has well prepared Thursday morning.
A clear run left her 0.56 seconds behind Austria’s Christine Scheyer. But neither Scheyer nor the other skiers ahead of Shiffrin were slalom specialists, giving the American a chance to catch up in slalom – especially on a course laid out by Mike Day, one of Shiffrin’s coaches.
“Somewhere in your head, you know the opportunity (for a medal) is there,” Shiffrin said. “Even without seeing the video, I know it was really good skiing. And every time I’ve been so sure about something like that in my entire career, it’s gone pretty well. The record is – what i can say is with this kind of feeling on my skis, i never DNF.
“And now I had a pretty good feeling on my skis two races in a row, on the same slope and I was DNF twice.