‘Truly a big relief’ as Mikaela Shiffrin finishes race in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin finished the super-G at the Beijing Olympics on Friday in record time — but for the first time in three races at the 2022 Games, she reached the finish.

The two-time Alpine Olympic gold medalist crossed the line at the bottom of a course known as The Rock with a time of 1 minute, 14.30 seconds. That left her 0.79 seconds behind Swiss champion Lara Gut-Behrami and in ninth place overall after all 44 participants took turns down the slope.

Shiffrin failed to complete her opening run in the two-run events that preceded the super-G in Beijing: the giant slalom and the slalom, which she won at previous Olympics. On Friday, she described her skiing as “a bit uncertain – or very uncertain”.

“Practice went really well, but when we got to the race it was different from what I thought to do the corners. Different enough that I didn’t finish,” he said. she said with a little laugh. “A lot of disappointment last week. There are a lot of emotions and it’s not really easy to reset and know if I was up to the challenge today.

The 26-year-old American had never competed in a super-G at the Olympics before, although she won a gold medal in the event at the 2019 world championships and a bronze medal at the world championships in last year.

“I didn’t think there was a very high chance of winning or even winning a medal in this race,” Shiffrin said. “It’s really a great relief to be here now at the finish. … I wasn’t skiing safely or anything. But I also reached the finish and it’s really good for my heart to know that.

Shiffrin actually started quite well on Friday, reaching the initial checkpoint in 12.66 seconds – ahead of Gut-Behrami’s pace.

But from there, Shiffrin lost contact with the leader, losing hundredths and then tenths of a second along the way.

The Beijing Olympics barely went as planned for Shiffrin initially. I couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, really.

First there was Monday’s giant slalom, which she won at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. She lost control and failed to properly manage a turn after five gates – her day ended. is completed approximately 10 seconds after the start of the first stage of a two-run event.

This was followed by Wednesday’s slalom, which she won at the 2014 Sochi Games to become, at 18, the youngest female champion in the race in Olympic history. Quite similar to the GS, it skidded wildly around a corner after five gates – this time its day ended five seconds into the first leg of a two-run event.

What was so hard for fans, and Shiffrin, to believe is that not only are slalom and giant slalom her two best races, and have been for years, but she almost never makes the kind of mistake that results in a “Didn’t finish”. next to their name on the score sheet.

The giant slalom fault created its first “DNF” in this event since January 23, 2018, a streak of 30 races. Her 47 World Cup slalom victories are more than any other skier in any alpine event in history.

After that surprisingly fast second outing on Wednesday, Shiffrin cast doubt on whether she’d even be on the track on Friday, saying, “If I’m going to ski on the fifth gate, what’s the point?”

But then she stepped out with other athletes on Thursday for the two authorized training trips to the super-G competition track. A few hours later, the US Ski Team announced that Shiffrin would indeed be on the start list.

About 4 1/2 hours before the start of Friday’s race, Shiffrin posted on Twitter, writing, “Today is Super G, and Super G is fun. I cannot express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to refocus on a new race, in the sport that I love so much. Forward.”

She also said, “I’ve had a lot of support over the last 48 hours and I have everyone to thank for that.”

The next women’s alpine event is downhill on Tuesday. While Shiffrin planned to compete in all five individual races in Beijing, it’s unclear if that will end up happening.


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