KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Mikaela Shiffrin thought she might win her first giant slalom at the Sochi games, in her very first Olympic race.
But she didn’t, and she’s OK with that.
At 18, she figures she has many more years to try.
“I wanted a gold, but also, as I said, I think this was meant to happen and it’s something I’m going to learn from. And next Olympics I go to, I’m sure as heck not getting fifth,” Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, said from the finish area Tuesday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
Shiffrin put together two solid runs without major mistakes in challenging conditions. It was pouring cold rain at the bottom of the course, foggy in the middle, and snowing at the top.
“It boiled down to a couple turns, mostly on the pitch, where I slid my skis a little bit and the other girls arced it,” she said.
Slovenian Tina Maze won the gold, her second of these games. She also took the gold in the downhill.
“It was a great day for me, but as you can see, the weather was playing games with us,” Maze said.
Austrian Anna Fenninger took silver, her second medal of the games, and German Viktoria Rebensburg, who won this event at the 2010 Olympics, got the bronze.
As for the other Americans, Resi Stiegler was 29th and Megan McJames was 30th.
Stiegler said she couldn’t see anything during the first run — she had to wipe her goggles twice. She complimented the women who were able to race well in those conditions, including her teammate Shiffrin.
“I think she did quite well,” Stiegler said. “It’s her first Olympics, and she has a lot of pressure on herself. Anything can happen at the Olympics, and she should be happy with how she did today just because it was her first Olympics and it was very difficult today.”
Shiffrin’s father, Jeff, watched from the stands.
“I’ve been able to watch her execute some training this week up close, and that told me she was doing great and she was ready,” he said. “Today, you really can’t see the skiing. I could see there was no huge mistakes.”
The Shiffrins arrived on Saturday and were able to see the men’s super-G on Sunday, where Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller podiumed for the United States. Jeff Shiffrin said the family has been able to eat some meals with Mikaela, but can’t spend too much time with her prior to her races.
“Basically, this is a job for her, and I try not to interfere,” he said. “If she were to come visit me at work, I wouldn’t change my routine just because she was there.”
Mikaela will race again in her top discipline, slalom, on Friday. As for the GS, she’ll study what went right and wrong today and still push for her first win. She reached the GS podium for the first time earlier this season at Beaver Creek.
“I was really thinking that my first GS win would be at the Olympics, and that would be such a cool thing to accomplish, but it’s just something that I accept,” she said. “I got fifth today and there are four girls who skied better than I did.”