Mikaela Shiffrin Had a Rocky Start at the Alpine Ski World Championships
Shiffrin was disqualified from the Alpine Combined event after straddling a gate in the slalom
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Mikaela Shiffrin may be in the midst of another record-breaking season, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still have bad days. In Monday’s opening race of the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel-Meribel, France, Shiffrin failed to finish the slalom portion of the alpine combined—an event where she is the reigning world champion.
The world championships kicked off Monday and run through Sunday, February 19.
Shiffrin was sitting in sixth place after the super-G component of today’s alpine combined, 0.96 seconds out from the leading pace set by Italy’s Federica Brignone. Then in the slalom—her speciality discipline—Shiffrin was posting the fastest split times before she straddled the third-to-last gate, causing her to ski out of the course and be disqualified.
Watch: Highlights from the women’s alpine combined World Championship race
The shocking moment harkened back to the Beijing Olympics, when Shiffrin skied out of both her giant slalom and slalom races. It’s even more surprising given the record-breaking run Shiffrin is currently on. She’s won 11 World Cup races this season, finished first or on the podium of her last four races, and just two weeks ago surpassed Lindsey Vonn’s win record to become the best female ski racer of all time.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Shiffrin admitted after the race. “I felt like I was skiing really well. I had a really good run.”
Shiffrin knew that to overcome Brignone’s lead from the super-G, she’d have to ski “full, full gas.”
“So I was doing that, take the risk that you don’t finish,” Shiffrin continued. “This is what you have to do if you want to earn a medal at the world championships. On the end, it was like letting it go to the finish just one gate too soon and then you’re out.”
Brignone, currently ranked fourth in the world overall, ultimately went on to win today’s alpine combined, with Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener finishing second and Austria’s Ricarda Haaser in third. Isabella Wright was the only American to finish both portions of today’s race, landing in 13th overall.
It’s undoubtedly not the start to her World Championships Shiffrin was looking for, but as she heads into her next race, a super-G on Feb. 8, she’s focused on the good skiing she did today, not on the one mistake she made.
“It’s always quite positive how I was skiing,” said Shiffrin. “I have some work to do to figure out where I can make up some time in the super-G. It’s so much fun to ski this hill so I’m looking forward to it.”