Robert F. Bukaty/AP
BEIJING — After skiing just five seconds into the first qualifying run of Wednesday’s women’s slalom at the Beijing Olympics, U.S. Olympic star Mikaela Shiffrin went off course and bailed out.
It was a shocking development and continued a difficult Olympics for the champion. Her failure to finish the slalom — her best discipline — cost her another chance at gold.
“I was pushing out of the start. I had full intentions of skiing as hard as I could,” Shiffrin said of her run.
This is the second time Shiffrin, a prior gold medalist in this event, didn’t finish a competition at Beijing. Just two days ago, during the women’s giant slalom qualifying run, Shiffrin slipped and didn’t finish.
The last time Shiffrin failed to finish a slalom race in the first qualifying run was in January 2017 during a World Cup competition in Zagreb, Croatia, according to the International Ski Federation.
On Wednesday, her start to the course was rocky and she failed to regain composure.
“I slipped up a little bit on one turn and I just didn’t give myself room to make any kind of error like that,” she said.
Once she lost her footing, she failed to get back on track.
After faltering, she skied off to the side of the course and sat down, bowing her head in her arms, and looked dejected. She didn’t get up for many minutes even as other competitors skied by. Several team members had to go down to her to usher her off the course.
Afterwards, Shiffrin discussed how she felt, “Pretty awful, yeah. But it won’t feel awful for ever. I just feel pretty low right now.”
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Shiffrin was the seventh skier to take to the course, but was the first not to finish the competition.
Former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn tweeted support for Shiffrin, telling her this mistake, “does not take away from her storied career and what she can and will accomplish going forward.”
The Beijing Olympics were supposed to be Shiffrin’s chance to become the first Alpine ski racer from the U.S. to win three Olympic gold medals.
Shiffrin is the all-time winningest slalom champion with 47 world cup victories in this discipline.
Shiffrin has dealt with a series of personal obstacles leading up to her third Olympics. Her father, Jeff Shiffrin, passed away unexpectedly in 2020. Following his death, she said she thought often about retiring. That same year she also dealt with a back injury.
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