Mikaela Shiffrin's struggles may be the most shocking results of the Beijing Olympics so far, and no one seems more stunned by it than her.
After a disappointing early exit in her first run in the giant slalom, Shiffrin was looking to rebound in another one of her signature events, the slalom. Unfortunately, Tuesday's race didn't go much better for the former Olympic champion, missing an early gate just seconds into the race.
She needed a moment to gather herself following another disheartening result, sitting in the snow to the side of the women’s slalom course at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center. Even with the 26-year-old still on the hill, competition moved right along with 81 more skiers set to make their first run.
After several minutes by herself, a Team USA member arrived to help console her. She eventually made her way down the hill, and was visibly shocked and seemingly at a loss for words to describe her performance.
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“I think I just slipped,” an emotional Shiffrin said. “I mean, I had every intention to go full gas, and there wasn’t really space in the course to, I don’t know, to slip even, not even a little. I didn’t give myself space for that. In my experience, that mentality has brought my best skiing. Today I went out on the fifth gate. So yeah.
Shiffrin battled back tears, saying that she was still processing "pretty much everything."
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“Makes me second-guess, like, the last 15 years, everything I thought I knew about my own skiing, and slalom, and racing mentality. Just processing a lot for sure," she said. "And I feel really bad. There's a lot more going on today than just my little situation, but I feel really bad for doing that."
Shiffrin could still compete in three more individual events at the 2022 Winter Olympics: super-G, downhill and combined. She had a similar plan lined up at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, but weather inhibited her ability to race in all five events.
Though Shiffrin skied out in two of her top events, she still has the chance to create a different lasting image from Beijing.