Winter Olympics: Simone Biles defends Mikaela Shiffrin after skier’s shock slalom exit

Simone Biles, Mikaela Shiffrin

Gymnastics icon Simone Biles has tweeted her support for compatriot Mikaela Shiffrin, who skied herself out of medal contention for the second event in a row at this year’s Winter Olympics. 

Two-time gold medallist Shiffrin failed to finish the women’s slalom today and has now questioned her future at the Beijing Games. 

The 26-year-old is one of the most decorated alpine skiers ever and holds multiple records. 

Shiffrin is a three-time World Cup champion and the youngest slalom gold medal winner in Olympic skiing history, having won gold in Sochi, aged just 18.

She is also the first athlete, male or female, with wins in all six FIS Alpine Ski World Cup disciplines and has won 73 World Cup races –– the second-most of all-time. 

The American was understandably tipped as one of America’s most likely medal hopefuls leading into this year’s Games, but so far the US star has uncharacteristically struggled to make her mark. 

Two days ago, Shiffrin suffered a shock exit from the giant slalom and made another mistake in today’s women’s slalom, with her rivals capitalising on her misfortune. 

The skiing sensation had come to Beijing planning to race in all five individual alpine events, yet her best two chances of a medal have now seemingly gone. 

“I have never been in this position before and I don’t know how to handle it,” Shiffrin admitted after today’s early exit. 

“I’m pretty much processing everything. It makes me second guess everything over the last 15 years. Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality. I’m just processing a lot. I feel really bad.”

“If I am going to ski out on the fifth gate, what’s the point? I will try to reset again. Maybe try to reset better this time but I also don’t know how to do better because I just don’t.

“We came all this way. We’re not done yet but those were my biggest focuses (Giant Slalom and Slalom), so it really feels like a lot of work for nothing,” she added.

While Shiffrin sat in disbelief at the side of the piste, world number one Petra Vlhova of Slovakia claimed the gold medal, after a brilliant second run. 

Austrian world champion Katharina Liensberger took silver and Swiss star Wendy Holdener won bronze. 

Britain’s Charlie Guest finished 21st, having made a small error as she approached the end of her second run. 

Though Shiffrin was visibly devastated by her performance today, there has been an outpouring of admiration for the skiing legend on social media. 

Biles, who faced difficulties of her own at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, came to the support of Shiffrin on Twitter and posted three love heart emojis, followed by the skier’s name. 

The gymnast withdrew from several events at Tokyo 2020, citing the need to look after her mental health. 

And Shiffrin admitted that perhaps the nerves and pressure have gotten to her so far in Beijing. 

Speaking to BBC, she said: “Maybe I pushed a little over the limit. Maybe that’s because of the pressure. It’s probably better to ask some psychologist about that.”


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