YANQING, China (Reuters) – Switzerland dominated Alpine skiing at the Beijing Olympics while the biggest name in the sport, American Mikaela Shiffrin, left without a medal from her six competitions.
The Swiss were on top in both the men’s and women’s events, winning half of the 10 individual golds on offer at the Games and in total collecting nine Alpine skiing medals.
Beat Feuz started Switzerland’s march to glory on ‘The Rock’ speed event piste by taking downhill gold and World Cup overall leader Marco Odermatt triumphed in the giant slalom on the ‘Ice River’.
On the women’s side Corinne Suter won the women’s downhill, while Lara Gut-Behrami took the first Olympic gold of her long and successful career in the super-G.
The Swiss success was completed by Michelle Gisin’s excellent display in winning the women’s combined.
She made headlines by revealing that team mates had left a note on her door stating ‘Drink wine, Ski Fast’ after she had shared a bottle of wine with some of them before claiming bronze in the super-G.
Perhaps Shiffrin might want to follow that advice at the nest Winter Games in Milan-Cortina in four years’ time after a nightmare Olympics for the 26-year-old American.
Former Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn had said her compatriot could medal in every event and, while Shiffrin took to the start gate in all of them, she never got close to the podium.
Shiffrin failed to even finish in events where she had real hopes — slalom, giant slalom and combined — and while her 18th place in downhill was no real surprise, her best result came in the super-G where she ended ninth.
Italian Sofia Goggia also left without gold, although the 2018 downhill champion and World Cup leader in the speed discipline was pleased with a silver after being forced into rapid rehab from a crash on Jan. 23 at Cortina d’Ampezzo.
In the women’s technical events, Petra Vlhova won Slovakia’s first ever Alpine gold with victory in the slalom and Swede Sara Hector triumphed in the giant slalom.
Clement Noel ended France’s 16-year wait for an Olympic gold in Alpine with victory in the men’s slalom, while Austria’s Johannes Strolz equalled his father’s greatest achievement and completed his own fairytale comeback from the brink of giving up skiing by winning the men’s combined.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Ken Ferris)