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Shiffrin won't compete in downhill

The Washington Post
February 19. 2018 10:32PM

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin, who has one gold medal and one fourth-place finish at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, dropped Wednesday’s downhill from her schedule, meaning she has only one more chance at a medal.

Late Monday, officials from the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced they would move the women’s combined — which consists of one run of downhill and one of slalom — from Friday to Thursday because of a forecast for high winds. That put the combined a day after the downhill, which meant Shiffrin, who spent childhood years living in Lyme, N.H., would have been compromised in an event in which she is favored to win.

“As much as I wanted to compete in the Olympic downhill, with the schedule change it’s important for me to focus my energy on preparing for the combined,” Shiffrin said in a statement released by the U.S. Olympic Committee. “I’m looking forward to cheering on our girls racing in the downhill and to compete myself in Thursday’s combined.”

Shiffrin trained on the downhill course both Sunday and Monday, but she has not competed in a speed race — either downhill or super-G — since early January. A transcendent slalom skier, she is relatively new to speed races. Though she won a World Cup downhill race in Lake Louise, Canada, in December, she has chosen her speed events carefully — and normally with an eye toward World Cup points, which aren’t available at the Olympics.

Shiffrin was 23rd-fastest in Sunday’s training run and 16th Monday, an indication that she likely would not contend for a medal in downhill. By contrast, American Lindsey Vonn, who is strongest in the speed event, was first and third in the two training runs. There is one more training session Tuesday.

“This track is incredible and it has been so fun to ski these last few days,” Shiffrin said in the statement. “As with every downhill I have skied this year I am learning so much with each run. Each time I get to the finish I just want to go back to the top and do it again!”

Shiffrin, 22, won gold in the giant slalom last week. But the next day, she skied conservatively in her signature event, the slalom, and finished off the podium in an event in which she took gold four years ago in Sochi, Russia.

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