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U.S. ski champ Mikaela Shiffrin is out of Olympic giant slalom event after falling

Mikaela Shiffrin falls during the women's giant slalom on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Tom Pennington
Getty Images
Mikaela Shiffrin falls during the women's giant slalom on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

BEIJING — The queen of the slopes Mikaela Shiffrin has been dethroned, after a fall in her first run in the giant slalom event in Beijing. Her mistake cost her a chance at gold in her best event.

U.S. Ski confirmed to NPR that Shiffrin is now out of the competition, after she did not finish the first of two giant slalom runs. The last time the two-time Olympic champion did not finish a giant slalom was over four years ago.

Shiffrin faltered after roughly 11 seconds on the course. As she sped down the mountain, she lost control and was unable to hold the edges of her skis. She ultimately missed a turn and fell on her side. Several other racers Monday morning similarly faltered on the course.

"I felt that I was pushing really quite well and attacking. But there was just one turn, I had a small, small mistiming when I really went to push on my edges and that makes all the difference," Shiffrin said of what happened as she fell after just five turns on the course.

The quality of the snow on the course is unforgiving, she said.

"The snow was just incredible to ski on. Oh my gosh, it's just really nice but if you do any small errors you really can't get away with it," she said. "As you can see, I got the worst of it on that turn."

Ahead of the Beijing Games, Shiffrin was thought to have a solid chance of five gold medals in each of her events. She previously won gold in giant slalom during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Shiffrin noted that falling is a rarity for her.

"I have been really working on the right timing of my turns and really never thought this was going to be part of the issue," she said. "There's disappointment for sure."

In the past two years, Shiffrin has dealt with the untimely death of her father in 2020, a severe back injury, and 300 days off the slopes due to the pandemic. The stress of those events left the slalom champion considering retirement.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 8, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
In an earlier version, we reported Shiffrin took 300 days off due to a COVID-19 infection. She actually took that time off because there were no competitions due to the pandemic.
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.

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