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Mikaela Shiffrin Finishes Super-G Race Ahead of the Pack at Beijing Olympics

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Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin finished the super-G event with no major mistakes, perhaps signaling a change in fortune for the skier. The super-G race Friday was the first of the Winter Games that Shiffrin has finished, after crashing out of her two best events earlier in the week.

Shiffrin, who had competed in the super-G at the Olympics, started the race well but looked a little out of rhythm later on. Her time of 1:14.30 wasn’t fast enough to put her on the podium.

The skier told NBC after the event that she was feeling more optimistic. “Today I proved to myself that I can still trust my instincts,” she said, “and that’s really, really huge.” She had said that she wanted “a reset” after disappointments in her earlier events.

“I just skied strong, and it’s a really big relief to be here now in the finish, having skied a run well. I wasn’t skiing safe or anything, but I also did get to the finish and that’s really nice for my heart to know that it’s not totally abandoning everything I thought I knew about the sport,” Shiffrin said after her run.

Shiffrin finished ninth out of 44 skiers, 0.79 seconds behind gold medal winner Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland. Mirjam Puchner of Austria won silver and Michelle Gisin, also of Switzerland, took home bronze.

Shiffrin, 26, from Colorado entered the Games as one of the biggest stars of Alpine skiing with plans to enter all five individual skiing races. She won the slalom at the 2014 Sochi Games and took home the gold in giant slalom from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. If she manages to win even one gold medal at the 2022 Games, as the AP reports, it would make her the second female skier to win one at three Olympics consecutively.

The skier struck out in her first two races. In both slalom and giant slalom, she was unable to finish. The defending Olympic champion missed a gate in the giant slalom on Monday and was disqualified from the event. During the slalom on Wednesday, she missed a gate after skidding out of control mere seconds into the race.

After being eliminated from the event, Shiffrin looked visibly distraught, sitting on the side of the course, bowing her hands. Her fellow Olympic athletes shared their support for her on social media. Simone Biles, who had received support and encouragement from Shiffrin after she withdrew from competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, tweeted three hearts.

Fellow skier and 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, who was commentating the race for NBC, wrote on Twitter: “Gutted for Mikaela Shiffrin but this does not take away from her storied career and what she can and will accomplish going forward. Keep your head high.”

The reigning champion seems to have taken their words to heart. Shiffrin is not letting the disappointments become a stumbling block and plans to continue her quest for gold on the slopes.

Before Friday’s race, Shiffrin had tweeted about the upcoming event.

“Super G is fun,” Shiffrin wrote. “I can’t express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to refocus on a new race, in the sport that I love so much. Onward.” It’s an event she has not competed in at an Olympics, but she did win it at the 2019 world championships.

Shiffrin’s next event is expected to be women’s downhill on Tuesday morning (Monday night Eastern Time). The women’s alpine combined is scheduled for Feb. 17.

Here’s what to know about the difference between the alpine skiing disciplines:

Downhill skiing

“A Downhill is characterized by the six components of technique, courage, speed, risk, physical condition and judgement,” according to the competition rules of the International Ski Federation.

While skiers participate in training runs for the downhill event, the official competition is based on only one run. The course, which is longer than the others, includes fewer turns and has the highest vertical drop, which is what makes downhill the fastest alpine skiing event. Downhill skiers reach speeds of 80 to 95 miles per hour.

The men’s downhill event took place Monday, Feb. 7. The women’s downhill event is set to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 15.


The slalom competition consists of two runs. A skier’s score is based on the combined time of both runs.

The gates on a slalom course are the closest together, requiring skiers to zig and zag quickly, making turns with rapid speed. If a skier misses a gate, he or she will be disqualified.

The women’s slalom took place Wednesday, Feb. 9. The men’s slalom event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Giant slalom

Like the slalom event, the giant slalom consists of two runs, after which a skier’s times are combined.

The giant slalom course at the 2018 Winter Olympics was lined with 50 gates spaced farther apart than the gates in the slalom course, but not as far apart as the gates in the super giant slalom, as Reuters reported.

The women’s giant slalom took place Monday, Feb. 7, and the men are set to compete in the giant slalom on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Super giant slalom

Like the downhill event, the super-G is decided by just one run. It has more gates than the downhill course, but fewer than in slalom or giant slalom.

Because the super-G is a speed event, it has a higher vertical drop than either the slalom or giant slalom courses.

The men’s super-G took place on Tuesday, Feb. 8 and the women’s event took place on Friday, Feb. 11 in Beijing.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com and Amy Gunia at amy.gunia@time.com