Mikaela Shiffrin delivered the downhill run she needed in the first half of the women’s combined event to put herself in contention for her first medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Shiffrin skied The Rock downhill course in 1:32.98, the fifth-best time of the field. She was 0.56 back of Austria’s Christine Scheyer in the top spot.
After a two-hour break, the combined event will conclude with a slalom run. Times are added together between downhill and slalom to determine each athlete’s final ranking in the competition.
On paper, Shiffrin, who is the most accomplished slalom skier in history, has a distinct advantage in the second half of the event. But she’ll have to make it down the Ice River technical course cleanly, something she was unable to do in both the giant slalom and slalom competitions earlier at the 2022 Games.
“It’s a good position. In theory, it’s a good place to be.” Shiffrin said of her fifth-place ranking after the downhill. “I’m not feeling totally confident with the slalom.”
Shiffrin said the memory of skiing out at the fifth gate during the women’s slalom has continued to repeat in her mind over the last week.
“I’m going to do my best and try to relax a little bit because that’s when my best slalom skiing comes out,” she said.
Shiffrin also revealed to NBC analyst Lindsey Vonn, and later NBC reporter Todd Lewis, that she used skis belonging to downhill silver medalist (and 2018 gold medalist) Sofia Goggia of Italy. Both athletes are sponsored by ski manufacturer Atomic.
“They are a pair of the skis that she’s currently training and competing on. She didn’t need them because she wasn’t competing here so I was able to try them on yesterday [in training] and then ski on them today,” Shiffrin said.
“[Goggia] actually wrote a small message on them on a sticky note. And I saw it in the start and I started crying because it was just like, ‘You can fly on these skis,’ or something.” Shiffrin said.
Another Olympic gold medalist, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, was in contention after the downhill, just 0.01 behind Scheyer.
The women’s combined event resumes at 1 a.m. ET Thursday morning, LIVE on USA Network and streaming on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports App and Peacock.