Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 17th (!) in giant slalom
Not a good day
Mikaela Shiffrin finished 17th in a World Cup giant slalom on Tuesday in Courchevel, France.
Yes, we just typed that and felt a certain sense of astonishment.
When one sees that type of result, one naturally asks questions like, “Did she decide to ski backward or blindfolded or both?”
On a serious note, this harkens back to a major topic of debate within our paper’s newsroom during last year’s staggering Mikaela Shiffrin Win-a-thon — 17 World Cup victories and 19 total including the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships — when should we put Shiffrin in the headline on page A1? Is it really news when Shiffrin wins a race or is it more newsworthy when she doesn’t?
The way she has crushed everyone since she tore her ACL in the middle of the 2015-16 season — 45 World Cup wins since her return on Feb. 15, 2016 — has made her seem like a Terminator or Ivan Drago — “I must break you,” — in the movie “Rocky IV.”
She is, in fact, a human being, not a cyborg or juiced-up Russian during the Cold War. Roughly translated for a family newspaper audience, stuff happens, which is exactly how Shiffrin described Tuesday on Instagram.
“I would like to tell you more about my day but my thoughts are rambling so much that I can’t even begin,” Shiffrin wrote. “I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m disappointed and I have absolutely no excuses. It’s on me. Well, crap. 💩…it happens.”
If you’re reading the print edition of this, it’s not a leap of the imagination to guess which emoji she used.
The last time …
That we are so quick to write, “Mikaela Shiffrin finished 17th in a GS. What the … fudge is wrong with her?” is a testament to how dominant she has been during the last few years. As we wrote on Saturday after she finished third in a super-G and announced that she would be skipping a parallel slalom to compete in this weekend’s speed events in Val d’Isere, France, in her last 40 starts on the tour or at Worlds, she had won 25 of those races and finished no “worse ” than 10th in those other 15 starts.
But under the category of how rare a 17th-place finish is, here we are:
• Her last DNF was in a Lenzerheide, Switzerland, slalom on Jan. 28, 2018, her final World Cup before the 2018 Olympics. This capped a run of too much skiing in too many disciplines — a DNF in a Cortina, Italy, super-G on Jan. 21, 2018 and a DNF in the Kronplatz, Italy, GS on Jan. 23, 2018.
These three DNF’s in the buildup to the Olympics caused Shiffrin and her camp to reevaluate her schedule and started the run of 25 wins in 40 starts.
On the bright side of things, 17th isn’t good for Shiffrin, but it isn’t a DNF. She still earned points on Tuesday, though Italy’s Federica Brignone by winning the race took the GS points lead.
• Tuesday’s 17th was Shiffrin’s worst actual finish since she was 20th in a super-G in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 9, 2017. She obviously was still branching out into speed two years ago.
• In giant slalom, she has only finished worse (non-DNF) than 17th twice in her career — 24th in Are, Sweden, on March 7, 2014, and 26th in Soldeu, Andorra, on Dec. 2, 2012.
About that 26th back in 2012, Shiffrin was 16 at the time and those were her first World Cup points in giant slalom.
She’s entitled to a few bad days … over the course of a decade.
Were Mikala Shiffrin Bill Belichick, she’d be saying, “It’s on to Cincinnati, er, Val d’Isere.” (It’s kind of weird comparing her to the evil Lord Hoody.)
This is likely one of those good times that her schedule is so busy. Training runs in Val d’Isere are on Thursday and Friday with a downhill on Saturday and a combined on Sunday.
There’s no time to mope, though we really don’t figure Shiffrin for the moping type.
After that, she’s in Leinz, Austria, for GS and slalom on Dec. 28-29. Since we’ve already referenced the “Rocky” movies, it’s only natural to quote Mr. T — “I pity the fool,” when it comes to the next set of tech races.
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