High winds delay Mikaela Shiffrin’s Pyeongchang debut again
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Mikaela Shiffrin’s Pyeongchang Olympic debut will wait at least another day.
Wednesday’s giant slalom was postponed due to wind and snow at the YongPyong Alpine Centre. The race has been rescheduled for Friday in Korea (Thursday night in Colorado).
“It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to race today, but it is important we have a fair race for all of the athletes and today’s conditions would definitely not have been fair,” Shiffrin said in a statement. “Weather delays and postponements are just the nature of an outdoor sport, but we’ll continue to take it day by day and I look forward to getting in the start gate!”
It’s the second event for Shiffrin that has been pushed back on the schedule. Shiffrin’s first scheduled race, the giant slalom scheduled for Monday, was postponed due to winds and is now set to take place Thursday (Wednesday night in Colorado).
The men’s downhill, originally set for Sunday, was also postponed, to Thursday (Wednesday night in Colorado).
U.S. Women’s Team Head Coach Paul Kristofic said the women are anxious to compete but also understand that weather delays are a part of ski racing.
“It’s challenging, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “You’ve got to get ready physically for a race like this; it starts early in the morning. And then the psychological aspect of getting ready to perform at the biggest event of the year. All that takes time and energy, and everyone’s a little bummed out when a day like this happens. But they happen to us, so we’re quite used to it.“
The women are now scheduled to race three days in a row — the giant slalom Thursday (Wednesday night in Colorado), the slalom Friday (Thursday night in Colorado) and the super-G Saturday (Friday night in Colorado). Shiffrin’s participation in the super-G has not yet been announced.
“It compresses the schedule so it makes for a more hectic five, six days as we approach speed events,” Kristofic said. “That’s something we’re considering as we move forward.”
At the slalom Wednesday, the first run was initially delayed for two hours due to strong winds and poor visibility at the YongPyong Alpine Centre. About 30 minutes before the scheduled start, organizers pulled the plug on the day’s race.
Fans made for the exits while the North Korean cheerleaders continued to cheer and clap in unison while seated in the grandstand.
Shiffrin, 22, of Eagle-Vail is seeking her second career medal and first of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. She will be among the favorites in three races — the slalom, the giant slalom and the alpine combined.
She is the defending slalom gold medalist, the overall World Cup champ and leads this season’s overall race by a huge margin.
Ed Stoner is the director of content for Swift Communications. He is covering the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, focusing on athletes from Swift’s communities in Colorado, Utah, California and Nevada.