Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympic nightmare goes on after third failure to finish | Winter Olympics Beijing 2022

Mikaela Shiffrin’s nightmarish Olympics spilled into Thursday when she was unable to complete the slalom leg of the women’s combined, the latest disappointment in a Beijing Games alpine skiing’s biggest winner would sooner forget.

The 26-year-old American appeared on course for a redemptive medal on the last day of individual competition in Yanqing after clocking the fifth-best time in the morning’s downhill portion, 0.56sec behind the halfway leader, Christine Scheyer of Austria, and ahead of a gaggle of contenders that included the Swiss pair of Michelle Gisin (by 0.13sec) and Wendy Holdener (0.43) along with Italy’s Federica Brignone (0.44).

But Shiffrin, who has won more World Cup slalom races – 47 – than any male or female skier, was left fighting back tears on the side of the course after crashing out 10 gates into the afternoon slalom, ensuring she will depart Beijing with no individual medals after managing to complete two of her five races.

“My plan, well, it was quite simple,”She spoke. “Just make the turns, try to be clean, fresh on the outside skis. Specifically, I wanted to be calm from the start and get into my tempo and just build it from there. I just wanted to get a full run of slalom.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody who ever had so many opportunities to get a medal in the Olympic Games and failed so many times.”

Gisin won the Gold, after the 12th fastest downhill and the fastest slalom. This combined time was 2min 25.67sec. Gisin retained her Olympic title. Holdener finished 1.05sec back to claim silver, while Brignone took bronze at 1.85sec.

Mikaela Siffrin talks with the media after her latest disappointment.Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Shiffrin’s disqualifications for missing gates early in her opening runs of last Monday’s giant slalom and Wednesday’s slalom were unexpected enough. The Colorado native had already failed to finish a race twice in her four years of entry into the Games and thirteen times in 228 races across all disciplines at World Cup and Olympic events.

Her third failure to reach the finish line at these Olympics matches her total DNFs for the past four years.

“I didn’t make it to the finish again and … 60% of my DNF rate for my entire career has happened at this Olympic Games,”Shiffrin’s three Olympic medals include gold in giant slalom and slalom, both in 2014.

“I didn’t feel pressure there. There’s always pressure but I didn’t feel … I just felt loose and relaxed, like I knew my plan; focused, good skiing and I was doing it and it still didn’t work.”

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Shiffrin’s final chance to earn a medal will come in mixed team parallel slalom, an event that debuted in 2018, when she will join her Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova as the second woman to compete in six alpine events at a single Olympics.

The only man or woman to win World Cup races in all six disciplines, Shiffrin’s 73 career wins on alpine skiing’s top circuit are third on the all-time leaderboard, trailing the Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (86) and her longtime US teammate Lindsey Vonn (82).

The American’s overflowing list of accolades, including three overall World Cup titles and three Olympic medals, has made her abrupt loss of form all the more stunning. She has shown remarkable self-awareness, candour, and brutal honesty in dealing with the most difficult part of her professional career.

Shiffrin, who described her opening races at these Olympics as a failure after a ninth-place finish in Friday’s women’s super-G, attempted to focus on the upside after Thursday’s latest setback.

“I’ve had a lot of support over the last few weeks, I appreciate it so much,”She spoke. “And I’ve also had a bit of a crap storm of: ‘What went wrong, caved under the pressure, choked’, all this stuff, and there’s probably some truth to all of it.

“It feels like there’s not a lot to learn, just try to keep focusing on good skiing. What’s the phrase, take it on the chin? If I can be the biggest joke of the Games, at least someone’s smiling.”

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