YANQING, China (Reuters) – After a Games in which she has struggled to live up to expectations, Mikaela Shiffrin has her final chance to win an individual gold medal in Beijing in Thursday’s women’s combined.
The ultimate test of a skier’s all-round ability, the combined features a downhill race and then a slalom leg with the two times added together for the final rankings.
Shiffrin is the reigning world champion in combined and took silver medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The American came into the Games as the leading technical skier of recent years but she dramatically failed to finish her first runs in both the slalom and the giant slalom.
The 26-year-old then finished ninth in the super-G and 18th in the downhill but she is part of an exciting group of women skiers who are comfortable in both technical and speed events.
“I think the combined is a pretty tough race because all the girls that are good in downhill they’re really good in slalom. Everybody’s an all-rounder, and it’s going to be a good challenge,” said Italy’s Federica Brignone, who won the overall World Cup title in 2020 on the back of her giant slalom and speed performances.
Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin is the defending champion in the event and showed her form with a bronze medal in super-G while her compatriot Wendy Holdener was third in combined in Pyeongchang and picked up a slalom bronze in Beijing.
Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic is also hoping to repeat her unique feat of winning gold medals in both snowboard and Alpine skiing.
Ledecka defended her title in women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom (PGS) but was unable to retain her crown in super-G where she finished fifth.
Thursday’s race in the final individual Alpine ski race of the Beijing Games with the competition closing on Saturday with the mixed team event — a knockout parallel slalom competition.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Alison Williams)