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Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with ‘really big let down’ after second DNF

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Mikaela Shiffrin skied out of the slalom at the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday, just two days after crashing out of the giant slalom. Once again, the top American alpine skier failed to make it past five gates, skiing off line seconds into her run.

Prior to the Olympics, Shiffrin had recorded just two DNFs in the last four years. She now has had two in a span of three days.

Afterward, Shiffrin sat on the side of the course for a gut-wrenching 20 minutes. Her mom joined her to try to console her as Shiffrin’s competitors carried on with their runs.

“It’s probably a culmination of the other day and today,” Shiffrin told reporters. “It feels like a really big let down.

“I was trying to look back and think about the last days and what I’ve been trying to do, what I’ve been doing with my skiing that would suggest that on the fifth gate I would push myself a little bit too hard to actually be able to stay in the course. [But] my skiing has been really solid. My entire career has taught me to trust in my skiing if it’s good skiing, and that’s all that I have to rely on on these race days.”

Shiffrin, the most decorated slalom skier in World Cup history with 47 victories, said she’s felt pressure to succeed but is still trying to understand what caused her to make routine mistakes in her first two events in Beijing.

“There are some nerves and the feeling that I want to do well. I always just go back to that fundamental idea that good skiing will be there for me,” she said. “It’s not the end of the world and it’s so stupid to care this much, but I feel I have to question a lot now.”

The 26-year-old was looking to become the first U.S. alpine skier to win three medals at a single Winter Olympics. While she has three more chances to medal in Beijing, giant slalom and slalom are her best events.

“We are not done yet, but GS and slalom, those were my biggest focuses,” she said. “It really feels like a lot of work for nothing. They will try to say: ‘This happens and it’s OK, and don’t be too hard on yourself,’ but it is a lot of work for a grand total of five gates in the GS and five gates in the slalom. That’s not lost on me.”

Many athletes have since tweeted in support of Shiffrin, including three-time Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn, who said she was “gutted” for the skier.

“But this does not take away from her storied career and what she can and will accomplish going forward,” Vonn wrote.

Petra Vlhová, Shiffrin’s top World Cup opponent this season, won gold in slalom with a combined time of 1:44.98. It’s the first Alpine skiing gold medal for Austria. Katharina Liensberger of Austria took silver, and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland won bronze.