YANQING, China (Reuters) – Mikaela Shiffrin will start Tuesday’s women’s downhill race and plans to complete her goal of taking part in every Alpine skiing event at the Winter Olympics, the American said on Monday.
Shiffrin, who skied out of her two opening races in China, the giant slalom and slalom, was 17th-fastest down the course known as ‘The Rock’ in the second downhill training session.
She had said after Saturday’s first training session that she would make a late decision on whether to line up for the race, where she is not among the favourites.
“Yes,” Shiffrin said when asked if she would race the downhill. “Well, I suppose the coaches could always say, ‘Man, maybe it’s not worth it, I don’t know, maybe it’s better to have a rest day.’
“But yesterday we had a very unplanned recovery day, which means in a block of about 17 days, I had a day off and that was not planned.”
Sunday’s downhill training session was cancelled after heavy snowfall made the course too dangerous for practice and Shiffrin said she had used the time to plot her path down ‘The Rock’.
“It gave me like way too much time to think about and overthink this track,” she said. “But I have to be able to visualise it as many times as possible, because that’s the only practice on my skis that I’m going to get — virtual practice.
“It was good to get some rest, some recovery, a little bit of a strength session and get the muscles priming … In general, it’s going to be really cool to be able to race.
“One of my biggest goals coming here was to start in every event. I think that at least that dream might still be alive.”
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who won slalom gold nL8N2UK1C7, withdrew from the Games on Sunday, citing risk of injury, meaning she will skip the final women’s individual race — the alpine combined.
Shiffrin, who leads Vlhova by 17 points in the overall World Cup standings, said her rival made a smart decision that would allow her to focus on the remainder of the season.
“I think there’s a few girls who have a really good shot at the combined, putting together just a solid downhill run and a solid slalom run. Petra was one of them, that’s for sure,” Shiffrin said.
“I have to say that she and her team, they’re smart, because the next goal for this season would be the overall (World Cup).
“I’m still here still clawing away at my Olympics and she’s getting the recovery she needs … and just making a smart decision for the rest of the season now they accomplished that goal (winning Slovakia’s first alpine skiing gold).”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings; Editing by Ken Ferris)