Mikaela Shiffrin’s quest for more Olympic medals begins now

Mikaela Shiffrin’s quest for more Olympic medals, and perhaps United States history, will begin on defense.

The dominating American slalom skier, who will attempt to compete in all five alpine skiing events at the Beijing Winter Olympics, will start on Monday (state side Sunday night) when she tries to defend her giant slalom gold medal.

Shiffrin, 26, who won giant slalom gold four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea, knows she has a tough course and gusty winds to contend with this time around, in addition to her rival Petra Vlhova from Slovakia.

“There’s going to be a huge element of just keeping your fingers crossed in these Games,” Shiffrin told reporters after testing the Yanqing slopes on Friday, according to Reuters. “It’s one of the steepest pitches I’ve ever been on in my life.

“Ideally no one will be facing one of the really big gusts when you’re almost thrown off the mountain. The speed of skiing when you get airborne off the field…it becomes not only difficult but also very dangerous.

Mikaela Shiffrin

The giant slalom, which will consist of two runs (the first run starting at 9:15 p.m. EST Sunday) is the first event of Shiffrin’s packed schedule at these Olympics. She is also expected to compete in the slalom on Wednesday, the Super G on Friday, the downhill on February 15 and the combined on February 17. Shiffrin planned to compete in all five events in 2018 before wind-related postponements squeezed the schedule and limited her to three events.

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Along with winning giant slalom gold in Pyeongchang, Shiffrin also won the 2018 combined silver and 2014 slalom gold in Sochi, Russia. She is one of the favorites to win more medals from Beijing – and just one more gold medal would give her the best of any US Olympic alpine skier. Shiffrin’s two gold medals are currently tied with Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence.

“There’s going to be some level of disappointment if I walk away without a medal, but I don’t think it’s possible to walk away without some level of disappointment about something,” Shiffrin said. “It’s impossible to have two perfect weeks.”

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin

Since Shiffrin last skied at the Olympics, she has dealt with heartache off the slopes. His father, Jeff, died in February 2020 from injuries sustained in an accident. Shiffrin took a break from skiing after her father’s death, then missed events due to the pandemic and a back injury, but eventually returned to racing in November, when she placed second behind Vlhova in a world cup slalom event.

Today, days before the second anniversary of his father’s death, Shiffrin will begin his first Olympic journey without him.

“But, I mean, I love being here,” Shiffrin said, according to Yahoo Sports. “To be honest, I feel really good.”

Shiffrin hopes to replicate her performance from the 2021 World Championships, when she came home with four medals – a gold in the combined, a silver in the giant slalom and a bronze in the slalom and Super-G.

For that to happen, she will need to avoid the nagging back injury that has been giving her trouble lately – in addition to battling the conditions in Yanqing.
“If you want to get a medal here, you have to ski well because the surface is legit, the slopes are not easy. You’re going to have to ski really to the point,” said Shiffrin. “Success is getting here and getting out of it.”

New York Post

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