US star skier Mikaela Shiffrin crashed out of the slalom section of the Alpine combined at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday, ending her last chance for an individual gold at these Games.
It was the third early exit in five events for Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who had been a favorite going into the Games.
On Thursday, Shiffrin ran into trouble and fell during the slalom, the second of the combined event’s courses. Last week, she skied out of the giant slalom and slalom early and was disqualified.
Shiffrin had referenced last week’s disappointment after she completed the downhill course in the Alpine combined, where she ended in fifth position, which she called a good spot.
“I’m not feeling totally confident with the slalom,” she told NBC’s Todd Lewis after the downhill. “I mean, I have a recurring, like, image of myself skiing out on the fifth gate again.”
The combined consists of one course each of downhill and slalom.
She plans to compete in a team event, but Thursday’s combined was her final chance for an individual gold.
In the downhill course of the Alpine combined, Shiffrin skied a solid performance that at the time placed her in second; by the time it was over she had been knocked to fifth at +0.56 seconds behind the leader.
Shiffrin suffered early and surprising setbacks when she skied out and was disqualified in the giant slalom and slalom on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9.
Those events are her specialties and ones in which she has won two previous Olympic golds.
Her disappointment after her second early exit was on full display, and she later said she was second-guessing the last 15 years.
But Shiffrin came back, and she finished the next two races in speed events — the Super-G on Friday, where she placed ninth, and the downhill Tuesday, where she ended in 18th place. It was the first time she competed in either at an Olympics.
After finishing the Super-G, Shiffrin said “I proved to myself that I can still trust my instincts a bit, and that’s really, really huge.” Before it, she tweeted she was grateful for a chance to refocus on a new race.
In downhill training ahead of Thursday’s Alpine combined, Shiffrin went fastest of the 14 skiers who started.
Shiffrin has won three Olympic medals. She won gold in giant slalom and silver in the Alpine combined at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, and she won gold in slalom at the 2014 Sochi Games.
She also has three World Cup overall titles, 73 career race wins and six world championship gold medals. She won the world championship gold in Alpine combined last year.
She still has time to add to her Olympic collection.
While she set out to compete in all five individual events, she also confirmed Tuesday she plans to compete in the team event Saturday.