Mikaela Shiffrin Places Fourth in Slalom, Misses Podium in Surprising Upset

She wondered if she had food poisoning. Twenty hours earlier Shiffrin had won the giant slalom, her most challenging event. Overcome by nerves, she threw up.

Her performance left her feeling lousy.

In second after the opening run, the Swedish skier powered through the sun-splashed course on her final charge to finish in a combined time of 1 minute, 38.63 seconds. "I knew what could happen, but I also knew what could go wrong", she said.

Whose sting was sharper?

The Swiss Olympic team says norovirus was detected in two of its athletes in recent days at the Pyeongchang Games. It was an hour-and-a-half past her Olympic bedtime. "It's insane. There's so much emotion", Shiffrin said following her victory.

But she will have a hard time shaking off the disappointment from this race. She has a string of top-seven slalom finishes this season though. But her "mental coach" is urging her to remember.

"Whenever an American races, the excitement of the moment makes you feel a responsibility to cheer", Eric Franz, a proud Cleveland resident attending his first Olympics alongside his wife.

Norway had won the past four Olympic men's super-G races, since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Markus Schairer of Austria is heading home for treatment after breaking his neck in a frightening crash during the Olympic men's snowboardcross quarterfinals. If, at 32, Jacobellis wants to keep competing, she'll have to wait four more years for a fifth attempt at gold.

Shiffrin's subpar day, however, also carries consequences.

Shiffrin had been aiming to become the first skier to defend an Olympic slalom title but she looked flat in her first leg and needing to make up time in her second run, she was actually slower. Shiffrin captured gold in the slalom as an 18-year-old four years ago in Sochi. (Nice problem to have, to be sure). She wasn't asleep until 10 p.m., almost two hours later than her normal bedtime. That is when you start thinking, this is so much fun, I just love - and then you fill in the blank. "I had a smile on my face and tried to ski as fast as I could", she said.

At a pre-Games news conference, Shiffrin was asked if she might the Winter Games version of Michael Phelps. The weather finally cooperated, with sunny, clear skies over the Yongpyong Alpine Center in Pyeongchang.

"It nearly felt like a virus, less about nerves", she said.

That didn't start until after 8 p.m. Shiffrin has been trying to go to bed by 8:30 each night, but the night before Friday's slalom she wasn't in bed until 10.

"It was OK, a bit conservative", she said of her first run.

No American Alpine skier has won more.

She later played down that bout of sickness as "more nerves than anything". "I didn't puke", she said. It was tough to carry that energy into today. "I didn't ski like myself today. It's definitely a bummer".

The super-G is the first speed event of the women's Alpine skiing program at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

"Moving forward? I am bad at that. Maybe, '" said her father, Jeff. Someday I'll be able to understand that this part of life and I'm just learning and I'm 22 years old and right now I feel like, ugh.

Shiffrin doesn't do everything fast.

  • Julie Sanders