2014 champ Shiffrin 4th behind Hansdotter in Olympic slalom
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin is, without a doubt, the best women’s slalom skier there is. Has been for years. All of the victories confirm it. Her competitors are aware of it. And, yes, so is she.
“This is going to sound so arrogant,” Shiffrin said Friday, her eyes closed. “I know that I’m the best slalom skier in the world.”
She spoke those words after failing to live up to that billing. After, as she put it, “puking before the first run” because of what she initially thought might be food poisoning or a virus but eventually decided was simply anxiousness. After, she acknowledged, skiing too conservatively to put up a proper defense of her Olympic title and finishing fourth behind gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden.
“Sometimes,” the 22-year-old American said, “I feel like the only one who can beat myself in slalom is me. And I beat myself … today.”
Hansdotter took advantage, putting together two legs with a combined time of 1 minute, 38.63 seconds for her first Olympic medal. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener was 0.05 seconds back for the silver, followed by Austria’s Katharina Gallhuber.
“A lot of surprises today,” Holdener said.
Not really in the men’s race across the way at the Jeongseon Alpine Center, where Austria’s Matthias Mayer added a super-G gold to the downhill title he won four years ago. This time, Mayer edged Switzerland’s Beat Feuz and Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud.
The biggest news 30 miles (50 kilometers) away at the Yongpyong Alpine Center, really, was Shiffrin’s showing. She finished in 1:39.03 — 0.08 away from the bronze and less than a half-second from the gold.
That Shiffrin’s poor-for-her performance in slalom came one day after she won the gold medal in the giant slalom, an event at which she is not as good, was not only stunning but also perhaps related.