PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Mikaela Shiffrin had been floating through a powdery world like a happy-go-lucky figurine inside a snow globe. Ski racing had come so easy that the Colorado woman brushed aside prevailing laws of gravity.
Newton and his theories could join Dante in hell. Few could get down a slalom run faster. Nothing seemed to change when Shiffrin added speed races to her ambitious pursuit.
Then without the slightest ringing of alarm bells, just weeks before the Pyeongchang Games, the graced-by-Olympic gods Shiffrin looked human.
In a stunning plot twist, she skied out of bounds just before the finish line two weeks ago after holding a one-second lead in a slalom race in Switzerland. Shiffrin would have clinched a fifth slalom World Cup title without the mistake.
“That’s when the red lights are flashing,” she said Saturday. “That’s when I need to change something.”
A skier with 10 World Cup victories this season makes her 2018 Winter Games debut Monday (Sunday night, Pacific) in the giant slalom at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre hoping she has regained her poise.
The 5-foot-7 skier with a radiant personality has the chance to capture American hearts as one of the Winter Games’ breakout stars. After becoming an Olympic slalom champion at 18, Shiffrin has taken over the mantel well stocked by Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso with three World Championship gold medals and the 2017 overall World Cup title.
Despite the recent issues, Shiffrin has a chance to defend her overall World Cup crown while leading the slalom rankings, third in giant slalom and fifth in the downhill this season. Most impressive, she reached the podium in 10 consecutive races by winning all but one of them.
“I’m not sure where to start exactly,” she said.
Yes, she does. Shiffrin knows the source of the recent detour. It began before the slalom stunner Jan. 28. Go back a week earlier to a World Cup downhill in Cortina, Italy. Shiffrin, 22, finished third on the first day to follow up a victory earlier in the season at Lake Louise.
This speed stuff seemed way too easy.
“I started thinking, ‘Oh, maybe all that experience that everyone talks about isn’t that important,’ ” Shiffrin recalled.
The next day she placed seventh in the same race. Suddenly it wasn’t as easy as it had seemed 24 hours earlier. All the training runs, mentally taxing course preparation and skiing hard finally had taken …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports