Winter Olympics: Mikaela Shiffrin shockingly fails to win medal in slalom
Shiffrin fails to make the podium in her best discipline after reportedly puking before her first run
American skier Mikaela Shiffrin was the overwhelming favorite to win gold in slalom -- her signature event -- but after taking fourth following her first run, Shiffrin could not make up enough time to finish first in Friday's big alpine event. Shiffrin finished with a combined time of 1:39.03 -- a stunning fourth-place finish for someone who has proven to be the best young skier in the world. The outcome is no doubt a letdown, as Shiffrin won gold in slalom at the 2014 Games.
Sweden's Frida Hansdotter came from behind to take gold (1:38.63), with Switzerland's Wendy Holdene (1:38.68) taking silver and Austria's Katharina Gallhuber (1:38.95) edging Shiffrin, whose second run was 0.29 seconds slower than her first.
Shiffrin threw up before a race again, only this time it might not have been typical pre-competition butterflies. The 22-year-old ski phenom has spoken openly about her unwanted penchant for pre-race puking in the past, but in speaking with NBC after her first run in the slalom Friday morning in Pyeonchang, Shiffrin allowed for the possibility that she could be sick.
"It almost felt like a virus, less about nerves," Shiffrin reportedly told NBC.
Shiffrin's second slalom run came approximately 24 hours removed from her gold medal performance in the giant slalom, which was pushed back three days due to wind and weather issues in South Korea. Further complicating matters, Shiffrin told NBC she lost about 90 minutes of sleep the night before the slalom event.
Her first Friday run was a surprise, as Shiffrin's most dominant discipline in alpine skiing is -- by far -- slalom. Despite being a considerable favorite for gold in a field of 78 racers, Shiffrin's first-run race of 49.37 seconds placed her 0.48 seconds behind Holdener, who led through run one. Shiffrin has come from behind to win global slalom competitions many times before, but only once when facing a deficit greater than 0.48 seconds.
The Winter Olympics can often provide upsets, but Friday's turn of events in the slalom have provided arguably the biggest shock these Games will offer.
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