Krasnaya Polyana, Russia • All anyone is asking of Mikaela Shiffrin is for her to become the next Lindsey Vonn, right here and now, and save the 2014 Olympics for the U.S. women’s Alpine skiing team.
The 18-year-old Shiffrin’s ambitions run parallel to those expectations, but she accepted a fifth-place finish in the her first event, Tuesday’s giant slalom. Slovenia’s Tina Maze won the two-run competition, staged in the rain. She added to her gold medal in last week’s downhill event, joining Switzerland’s Marie-Therese Nadig as the only women to win both races in the same Olympics. Maze and the other medalists left Shiffrin "really in awe."
As for her own effort, Shiffrin said, "It’s something I’m going to learn from, and next Olympics I go to, I’m sure as heck not getting fifth."
Her next opportunity for a medal will come sooner than that. The Coloradoan’s specialty is the slalom, scheduled Friday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
Shiffrin’s performance in the GS was reasonably good. But the U.S. women’s team claims only Julia Mancuso’s bronze medal in the super combined event, amid Vonn’s absence due to a knee injury. The men’s team has two medals with two races to go.
Mancuso failed to finish the first run Tuesday and will skip the slalom, although she intends to compete in 2018 when she’ll be 33.
"After coming here and having that magic day [last week], it makes me want to keep going," she said.
After her Olympic debut, Shiffrin spoke of "a pretty spectacular day, actually," making interviewers wonder what they’d missed, standing in the rain. "The visibility was better than I thought it was going to be and the conditions were really good for how much it’s precipitating."
Resi Stiegler, a former Park City resident, finished 29th. Park City’s Megan McJames placed 30th after a satisfying second run. "On a day like this, the run’s not going to pretty," McJames said.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.