Vonn straddles gate, Shiffrin takes silver in women's Alpine combined

Dean Simpson
February 23, 2018

That wound up working in her favor, as Shiffrin raced in the 19th position and looked well-prepared in finding her line down the mountain.

But Vonn has much to be proud of too: she earned bronze on Wednesday - her first medal in eight years.

Shiffrin took the silver medal in the event. You saw in it real joy.

"It's been a mental roller coaster", Shiffrin said.

It was the second straight overtime in the gold medal game for these two teams, but the first shootout in Olympic women's hockey history. The others: Vonn (three), Julia Mancuso (four), Bode Miller (six).

One of the hardest - perhaps the hardest - thing to do at this level of big-time sports is to meet, or beat, the expectation game.

Shiffrin's Olympics come to an end as a success. Vonn was automatically out as a result, despite blazing through the downhill course as the fastest skier.

Here in PyeongChang, opening up, Shiffrin won gold in GS. "You never know what's going to happen", Vonn said. She chose to skip competing in the downhill at these Games, saving her energy instead for the combined. "I certainly know that I'm a pretty good competitor, " the athlete, 33, told reporters, per USA Today.

Sacrificing the downhill and the super-G paid off.

All the same, what Shiffrin learned here is key. "Ski racing has a way of taking a lot from you, which is why you have to love it and really have a passion for it if you want to have a long career". "You try to handle it with grace".

Thoughts of the future were momentarily parked as she talked of how she hoped she has inspired budding skiers, she spoke of the pain her body is in, but also of the strain the sport has taken on her. Then third in DH. Just 10 minutes into her slalom. "And I tried everything I could to win for him", Vonn said. Fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin was in sixth place after the downhill portion with a good shot at making up ground in the slalom, her specialty. And Shiffrin's all of 22 years old.

When most of the American public checks back on Alpine racing, at the Beijing 2022 Games, Shiffrin will be 26. Her leadership skills? The relationship between Mikaela and her mother, Eileen: as is normal with young women in their 20s, how will it evolve?

The 23-year-old Norwegian apparently had an open run to gold after his slalom arch-nemesis Marcel Hirscher crashed out and he was fastest in the first run at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.

At her best, Shiffrin would have a serious chance at gold in the combined.

"I took one warmup run going to the slalom inspection in Lenzerheide", Vonn said, alluding to her fourth-place finish at the World Cup stop in Switzerland in the combined last month.

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