PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The start of Mikaela Shiffrin’s bid for multiple medals at the 2018 Olympics was delayed yet again when the women’s slalom was postponed from Wednesday to Friday because of strong winds.
It’s the third time in four days an Alpine skiing race was shelved because gusts made it too dangerous for competition. Shiffrin originally was supposed to get started with the giant slalom on Monday; that race was rescheduled for Thursday and will now be her first at these Winter Games.
Weather permitting, that is.
The men’s downhill, which was supposed to open the 11-event Alpine program on Sunday, also was shifted to Thursday, when the forecast calls for a lessening of the swirling and blustery wind that has been creating problems.
Now Friday will also be a double-competition day, with Shiffrin attempting to defend her 2014 gold medal in the slalom, which will be held at the Yongpyong Alpine Center that hosts technical races, while the men compete in the super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Center speed hill about 30 miles away.
That super-G was originally scheduled for Thursday but was pushed to Friday once the men’s downhill was moved.
Snow was falling and wind blowing this way and that at Yongpyong on Wednesday.
Already facing a bit of a time crunch because of all of the weather delays, organizers kept pushing back the first run of the two-run women’s slalom until eventually deciding to call it off about an hour after the original start time.
The slalom is a race Shiffrin has dominated for five years, including her Olympic gold as a teenager and three consecutive world titles.
Whenever she does get to head down the hill through the gates, the 22-year-old American will be attempting to become the first athlete to win the slalom at two Winter Games in a row.
She is expected to be one of the superstars of the next two weeks, considered a medal favorite in slalom and giant slalom, a strong contender in the combined and a possible entrant in the other two women’s individual races, the downhill and super-G.
Among the women who could challenge Shiffrin in the technical races are Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who claimed silver in the slalom and gold in the Alpine combined event at last year’s world championships; Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, owner of three world championship medals in the slalom; and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who has won two World Cup slaloms this season.