What was to be one of the highlights for Team USA in this Olympics ended in heartbreak as skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin missed a gate on her Slalom run tonight and was out of her best event after six seconds.
What was to be a centerpiece of NBC’s primetime coverage quickly became what the network’s Maria Taylor described as “Gold Medal heartbreak” as a dejected Shiffrin skied to the shoulder of the course and just sat down. That left the network’s announcers struggling to describe what was happening onscreen as the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and three-time Overall World Cup champion simply sat in the snow with her skis off, head down.
Mikaela Shiffrin’s second Olympic race also ends early https://t.co/Pfs4hKcGlK pic.twitter.com/ThYP4QjDHL
– Globe Sports (@Globe_Sports) February 9, 2022
NBC cut to commercial and, when it returned, Shiffrin was still sitting down and had been joined by her mother, who was consoling her.
Asked later by NBC’s Todd Lewis what happened, the still reeling 26-year-old struggled to explain.
“I think I just slipped,” she said. “I mean I had every intention to go full gas and there was no space in the course to slip, not even a little bit. I did not give myself space for thatIn my experience that mentality has brought my best skiing and, ”the Olympian paused, visibly fighting back her emotions,“ Today I went out my fifth gate. ”
“What are you still processing?” asked Lewis rather bluntly.
“Everything… makes me second guess like the last 15 years,” she replied with a heavy sigh. “Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality. Um, just processing a lot for sure. ”
“I feel really bad. There’s a lot more going on today than just my little situation. I feel really bad for… for doing that. ”
The slip up came two days after Shiffrin slid out 11 seconds into her giant slalom run just seconds in, and it left the other competitors standing up top waiting for the US star to clear the piste.
NBC was forced to cut away to Craig Melvin, who announced the event was being moved to Peacock, and then swiftly segued to a more upbeat tease of US snowboarder Shawn White’s upcoming half-pipe run and a promo for a Toyota film on brothers striving for Paralympic gold.
Candice Parker then followed, stunting by recapping Nathan Chen’s routine from last night and Italy’s gold medal Curling match, which gave that country at least one more Gold medal than the United States which, five days in, has yet to win one.
Lindsey Vonn, who as a commentator for NBC had said this was a “must-medal” moment for Shiffrin, later wrote on Twitter, “Gutted for @MikaelaShiffrin but this does not take away from her storied career and what she can and will accomplish going forward. Keep your head high. ”
– lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) February 9, 2022
Shiffrin has three more events in Beijing: The Super-G on Thursday, the Downhill on Monday and the Combined next Wednesday.