Mikaela Shiffrin to skip downhill after another Olympic schedule change

Mikaela Shiffrin entered the 2018 Winter Olympics with a shot, albeit a long one, at five gold medals. Heading into the final week of the PyeongChang Games, that number has been slashed to two.

That, in part, is because weather has ravaged the skiing schedule in the South Korean mountains. On Monday, yet another rescheduling forced Shiffrin to pull out of another event, Wednesday’s downhill.

Shiffrin had been contemplating whether or not to compete in the downhill. She performed well enough in training Monday to earn the fourth U.S. spot in Wednesday’s race.

But late Monday night, International Skiing Federation officials rescheduled Shiffrin’s other event, the alpine combined race, from Friday to Thursday.

That meant Shiffrin would have had to compete on back-to-back days. As a favorite in the combined, but less of one in the downhill, she has officially decided to skip Wednesday’s race to focus on Thursday’s.

“As much as I wanted to compete in the Olympic downhill, with the schedule change, it’s important for me to focus my energy on preparing for the combined,” she said in a U.S. Ski release. “I’m looking forward to cheering on our girls racing in the downhill and to compete myself in Thursday’s combined.”

Mikaela Shiffrin skis in the women’s slalom competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Getty)
Mikaela Shiffrin skis in the women’s slalom competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Getty)

It’s the second time Shiffrin has opted to drop out of a race in PyeongChang, and the second time the decision was influenced by weather. Wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour postponed events originally slated for the first few days of the Games. That pushed three of Shiffrin’s events, the giant slalom, slalom and super-G, to three consecutive days.

Shiffrin won the giant slalom last Thursday, but decided to forego Saturday’s super-G to focus on Friday’s slalom, her best event. She finished fourth in the slalom, though, trimming her gold-medal potential to three.

Now it’s been trimmed to two by the latest schedule change. PyeongChang weather forecasts call for more heavy winds on Friday. To avoid a late postponement nightmare, officials decide to cram the race in a day early.

That made Shiffrin’s downhill decision easy. The 22-year-old will go for a second gold fully rested on Thursday.

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