Mikaela Shiffrin places 18th in Olympic downhill event | SummitDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin places 18th in Olympic downhill event

Ryan Sederquist
Vail Daily

Even with a 30-minute delay, the temperature at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center was minus 5, and Corinne Suter stole the gold medal from Sofia Goggia and, in the process, broke up an Italian podium sweep in the signature Alpine event at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Starting in the 13th position, defending downhill world champion Suter navigated the 2,704-meter course, becoming the first person since Lindsey Vonn to win the World Championship and Olympic title in the event in consecutive years. Suter had shown excellent form coming into the Games, winning the final World Cup event before Beijing.

Goggia, the defending Olympic champion, settled for silver, and her teammate Nadia Delago shocked prognosticators with her stunning bronze run.

Mikaela Shiffrin, racing in her fourth event of the Games, was not able to find speed in the cold, grippy snow, finishing 18th. Keely Cashman was the top American in 17th.

It was Shiffrin’s first career Olympic downhill. The 26-year-old’s Olympic golds have come in the slalom (2014) and giant slalom (2018) with a silver in the combined (2018). She has just two World Cup wins in the event.

The Edwards resident entered the Beijing Games with hopes of possibly becoming the most decorated female Alpine skier in history. She needed only one medal to tie Julia Mancuso for the most medals — four — by an American female Alpine skier. After skiing out of her first two specialties at these Games, however, Shiffrin told the media before the downhill that she is shifting her focus away from placing.

“I’m not focusing on the medal anymore. It’s just trying to do my best execution every day. Anyway, that’s my best shot at a medal,“ she said to The Associated Press on Monday.

After the second time check, Shiffrin had closed the gap to first place to 0.05 seconds, but she lost time in the Haituo Bowl and Canyon, ultimately ripping through the 37 gates in 1 minute and 34.36 seconds, 2.49 seconds off Suter’s mark.

The canceling of Sunday’s training session allowed Shiffrin to take her first day off in roughly 2 1/2 weeks. “It was good to get some rest, some recovery, a little bit of kind of a strength session in and get the muscle priming,” she told The Associated Press.

Since 1948, only two non-European skiers have ever won the downhill — Kerrin-Lee Gartner of Canada and Vonn (2010) of the U.S. — a distinction that will continue after Tuesday morning’s result.

Sofia Goggia was attempting to become the second athlete after German Katja Seizinger to successfully defend the Olympic downhill title. Though she is currently the World Cup discipline leader, her buildup to the Games has been shaky. She suffered a crash in Cortina on Jan. 23 that caused a strain of the left knee, partial tear of the cruciate ligament (something she already had damaged in 2013) and a “small fibula fracture,” according to Italian Ski Federation press officials. It ended up forcing her out of the super-G, and even in the practice sessions, it was a victory for the 29-year-old simply to get to the bottom.

“I am glad I could ski well today, and I am glad I could be at the start gate, because it wasn’t guaranteed at all after what occurred in Cortina around 15 days ago,” she told the Olympic press.

Goggia was 12th and fourth in the two training runs. When she finished her run and took the lead, she let out a primal scream. For a brief moment, the Italians held all three podium places.

The next event on the women’s Alpine calendar is the combined Thursday, Feb. 17.

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