YANQING, China (Reuters) – Norwegian skier Henrik Kristoffersen is ready to put his slalom failure at the Pyeongchang Games four years ago firmly behind him, saying he is just one “little click” away from finding his top gear at the Beijing Olympics.
Kristoffersen, who specialises in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom, will make his first appearance of the Beijing Olympics in the men’s slalom event on Saturday.
“I feel like the last little bit of confidence, this last little gear, this little click, that real flow is missing but it could come pretty quick,” the 27-year-old told Reuters.
“I’ve been struggling on really icy conditions… but we’ve changed a lot this year and kind of figured out the reason why I’ve been struggling.
“At the moment with the equipment it’s working quite nicely on all sorts of conditions so… I can ski up to my potential then it really doesn’t matter.”
In 2016, aged just 21, Kristoffersen became the first slalom skier to win all three classic races – in Adelboden, Wengen and Kitzbuehel – in the same season.
He then went to the Games in South Korea four years as one of the world’s best slalom skiers alongside Austria’s Marcel Hirscher.
Kristoffersen was leading after his first run in Pyeongchang and had an open run to gold after Hirscher crashed out, but made an error only a handful of gates into his second run and skied out himself.
“I tried and I failed and that’s OK. I can accept that. I have no problems accepting that,” Kristoffersen said.
“It’s much worse to just be slow and not ski up to your potential. That I kind of can’t accept.
“But to lead after the first run and ski good until you ski out in the second run even if it’s the Olympics and it comes around every fourth year, that’s OK.”
Kristoffersen also had sympathetic words for American skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who skied out of her opening two races, giant slalom and slalom, in China.
“Her career is not going to be defined on those two races and those two ‘Did not finishes’ here,” he said.
“Yes of course it’s rough and especially for her being an American with the Olympics being so big. I can understand it, but she’ll get past it for sure.
“Even without knowing her for a lot a years, she’s going to get past it for sure. That’s not a problem.”
(Reporting by Ilze Filks, writing by Simon Jennings; Editing by Hugh Lawson)