YANQING, China (Reuters) – Norwegian downhill skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde called for public support for his girlfriend, American slalom specialist Mikaela Shiffrin, after she failed to finish for the second straight race at the Beijing Olympics.
Shiffrin, a big gold medal hope for the U.S. team, skied out barely five seconds into her first run in Wednesday’s slalom after exiting in a similar manner in Monday’s giant slalom.
Kilde, who won bronze in Tuesday’s super-G after finishing fifth in his favoured downhill event on Monday, posted a picture on Facebook of Shiffrin looking dejected at the side of the piste after her exit.
“When you look at this picture you can make up so many statements, meanings and thoughts. Most of you probably look at it saying: ‘she has lost it’, ‘she can’t handle the pressure’ or ‘what happened?’, he wrote.
“Which makes me frustrated, because all I see is a top athlete doing what a top athlete does! It’s a part of the game and it happens. The pressure we all put on individuals in the sports are enormous, so let’s give the same amount of support back.. It’s all about the balance and we are just normal human beings!! I love you Kaela” he added.
Shiffrin responded to the post on Twitter.
“My hope for every human is that they find another human who finds a way to love, understand, and heal them in the way @AleksanderKilde has done and continues to for me,” she wrote.
Shiffrin still has a chance to medal in the combined event but has yet to decide whether to take part in the speed races — downhill and super-G.
The skier’s mother Eileen told the Washington Post that no decision had been made yet on the 26-year-old’s participation in those races.
“We’re going to wait and see. We have to figure it out, because the GS (giant slalom) was a big disappointment, and this was also an enormous disappointment,” she said.
“And I think of Mikaela as being really resilient, but we’re a little concerned about her doing speed with very little to no — she has no speed training. None, essentially. So we’re a little worried that it could be dangerous. We’re going to try and sort that out,” she added.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Hugh Lawson)