Shiffrin loses last shot at medal as US mixed team falls short
By Matthew Futterman and Talya Minsberg
Mikaela Shiffrin was looking for a comeback in her sixth and final event at the Winter Olympics on Sunday, just hours before the closing ceremony.
On her last chance to win a medal before leaving Beijing, she found another disappointment when she and the United States team fell short of winning a medal in the mixed-gender team event.
She and her U.S. teammates were defeated by Norway in the bronze medal matchup. Austria won the gold and Germany took silver.
Shiffrin was hoping the team competition would help put the struggles of the past two weeks behind her. In her other five races, all individual events, she failed to finish three runs and placed ninth and 18th in two others.
The mixed team event, taking place for the second time at an Olympics, is more a celebration of skiing than an intense individual battle for medals. The race resembles parallel slalom, where skiers go head-to-head on identical courses. Two women and two men from each country compete, each racing an opponent of the same gender. A team advances to the next round if it wins three of these races; if the teams tie 2-2, the winner is the team with the best combined time.
On Thursday, after her third disqualification in an individual race, Shiffrin was already reflecting on how her Olympics had gone so wrong.
“Right now,” Shiffrin said, “I just feel like a joke.”
Shiffrin arrived in Beijing favored to win multiple medals in a career that already had produced two golds and a silver, the next step in her quest to become the most decorated skier ever to compete on the international stage. Instead, her journey became a superstar’s staredown with an abyss: two DNFs (did not finish) in giant slalom and slalom, followed by ninth- and 18th-place finishes in super-G and downhill, and then one last DNF in combined Thursday.
On Twitter, Shiffrin shared some angry messages she had received after her disappointing performances. But in a video posted to the site, she said she just ignored those who tried to shake her confidence.
“You can choose to take them, and dwell on them, and let them make you want to retire, let them make you want to disappear and just never be seen again,” she said. “Or you can just say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great sense of humor, and I’ve got a lot more to give to this world, so back off and let me do my thing.’ And I think a lot of you out there who might be experiencing these hate messages, I think a lot of you have that fire in you, so you just go for it.”