Abrahamson: No race yet for Shiffrin? No problem

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Disappointed at the postponement of Monday’s women’s giant slalom because of the we...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 6:42 AM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 6:42 AM

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Disappointed at the postponement of Monday’s women’s giant slalom because of the weather?

Not Mikaela Shiffrin.

“It’s a bummer that we’re not able to race today," she said. "But with the training block I’ve had, I’m prepared and feeling good.

“I’ll use this time to continue to train and re-focus on Wednesday’s slalom race. We have a great gym and space to eat and take plenty of naps, so I’ll use this time to recharge.”

In a perhaps not immediately obvious way, postponement of the giant slalom — Shiffrin’s second-best event — may serve to further her overall medal prospects here at the PyeongChang Olympics.

What will now be her first race — assuming, again, weather permitting — is her best event, the slalom, set for Wednesday. She is the Sochi 2014 slalom gold medalist; of her 41 World Cup victories, 30 are in slalom. 

Four years ago in Sochi, that slalom was the last of Shiffrin’s two races. Now it’s the first of — maybe — five.

Nothing is ever a sure thing in alpine skiing. Even so, because of the weather, the odds would seem all the more in Shiffrin’s favor for her 2018 Olympic program.

Up next on the women’s alpine racing calendar after Wednesday’s slalom: 

The giant slalom.

It is now due to be run on Thursday (incidentally, the same day as the men’s downhill, re-scheduled from Sunday).

Shiffrin has steadily improved in the giant slalom. In Sochi, Shiffrin finished fifth in the event. Compare: at the 2017 world championships, she took GS silver; she finished second as well in the 2016-17 World Cup standings. On this year’s World Cup tour, she ran fifth, second, first, third and first before a late January stretch in which she lagged, then took time off.

At these Games, Shiffrin has committed publicly only to skiing the giant slalom and slalom.

How many more races after that? She has not said. The calendar also includes the downhill and super-G, plus what’s called a super-combined (racers ski one downhill plus a slalom, fastest combined time wins). 

Total possible? Five events.

No alpine skier has won more than three golds at a single Olympics.

The Croatian star Janica Kostelić, in Salt Lake in 2002, became the first woman to win not just three alpine ski gold medals at a Games — she won in giant slalom, slalom, combined — but four overall, silver in super-G.

Delays in the alpine events at an Olympics because of the weather are, of course, nothing new. All the same, conditions here remain ferocious.

Luc Alphand, who skied in three Winter Games for France — 1988, 1992 and 1994 — and whose daughter, Estelle, is skiing here for Sweden, said temperatures at the top of the course were (translating here from Celsius and the metric system) below zero Fahrenheit with winds gusting to 60 mph.

“It’s impossible, for sure,” he said, adding, “Some days you have to stay — not in bed — but you have to stay home.”

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