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Mikaela Shiffrin: Defending Olympic champion crashes out of giant slalom on first run


The 26-year-old was competing in all five alpine skiing disciplines in Beijing and is bidding to become the first American skier to win three golds in a single Winter Games.

However, Shiffrin was one of 22 skiers that failed to finish on Xiaohaituo Mountain, perhaps a consequence of the usual pre-Olympic test runs being canceled due to Covid.

“The day was finished basically before it had even started, but I had really the right mentality and actually I am proud of those five turns,” she told Beijing 2022. “I mean huge disappointment, not even counting medals, but just it’s a really fun hill and good conditions.

“I think there’s a lot of questions that will be asked and I think many people are going to say: ‘What went wrong this entire time?’

“We can go back to right after Sรถlden (World Cup event in October 2021) and rather than being able to train, being stuck inside because of a back injury. We can go to the 10 days I’ve had to take off in quarantine and missing training there.

READ: Live updates — Day 3 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
Mikaela Shiffrin crashes out of the giant slalom on her opening run.

“We can go to a lot of different places in the season where we can put the blame, but the easiest thing to say is that I skied a couple of good turns and I skied one turn a bit wrong and I really paid the hardest consequence for that.”

Shiffrin’s next chance at a medal comes in Wednesday’s slalom, the discipline she won gold in as a teenager at Sochi 2014.

The three-time Winter Olympic medalist said she was “not going to cry” about the crash as it would just be “wasting energy.”

“My best chance for the next races is to move forward, to re-focus — and I feel like I am in a good place to do that,” she said.

“I don’t know about the medals. I know that my skiing is good and I know even my GS skiing is good, but there we have that (today’s crash). So you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I am going to do my very best to keep the right mentality and keep pushing.

Shiffrin was one of 22 skiers to log a DNF.

“I won’t ever get over this. I have never got over any (disappointments in big races). I still remember how much it hurts four years ago in Kronplatz when I fell before the last Olympics. I remember thinking that was so heartbreaking, and it wasn’t even at the Olympics.

“That heartbreak never goes away and I think that’s what drives me to keep working. Sometimes, they do still happen and, unfortunately, it happened today.”

Sweden’s Sara Hector eventually took the gold medal in the giant slalom, her country’s third of these Games, with Italy’s Federica Brignone taking silver and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland earning bronze.

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