Mikaela Shiffrin Fails to Finish Her Second Olympic Race

The Four Percent


It was a heartbreaking end, Mikaela Shiffrin’s second early exit from an Olympic race in three days. But Shiffrin was not ready to move on. Not just yet.

Frustrated and bewildered by a Beijing Olympics dream going wrong in real time, Shiffrin sat down in the snow next to the slalom course on Wednesday morning and buried her head between her bent knees. She remained there for more than 20 minutes as some of her rivals whizzed past, lost in her thoughts and her disappointment and trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

When she finally came down the hill, Shiffrin didn’t have answers.

“I had the intention to do my best skiing and my quickest turns,” Shiffrin told reporters, fighting back tears. “But in order to do that, I had to push the line, the tactics. And it is really on the limit then. And things happen so fast that there was really not space to slip up, even a little bit.”

Nothing in Shiffrin’s professional career portended the series of quick, complete disappointments she is enduring this week on her sport’s biggest stage. Slalom is ski racing’s most dauntingly precise discipline, but for Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion and the most decorated slalom skier in history, to last only five seconds in her best event was almost unfathomable.

Shiffrin has three Olympic races left if she chooses to enter them, something that no longer seems a certainty.

“I will try to reset again and maybe try to reset better this time,” she said. “But I also don’t know how to do it better, because I just don’t. I’ve never been in this position before, and I don’t know how to handle it.

“If I am going to ski out on the fifth gate, well, what’s the point?”

As she spoke, the slalom went on without her. Petra Vlhova, who has had a pitched rivalry with Shiffrin this season, came back after an erratic first run to win the gold, becoming the first Alpine Olympic medalist from Slovakia. Katharina Liensberger of Austria was in second place, eight hundredths of a second behind, just barely faster than Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, who won the bronze.

Shiffrin, who was expected to contend for multiple gold medals at these Games, had trouble in Wednesday’s run almost from the beginning, with her feet and arms not in sync, her balance teetering and the gates seeming to come at her faster than she could react. She nearly fell rounding the fourth gate, and her usually composed bearing was harried. As she passed the fifth gate, she was heading for the side of the trail and knew her race was over. She was disqualified before the sixth gate.

In an interview, she explained what she had been thinking about while she sat on the side of the trail. She said she was overcome by a feeling of having let herself and others down.


Source link Most Shared

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.