Shiffrin in prime po­si­tion af­ter fast first run

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Pat Gra­ham

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA » Mikaela Shiffrin turned in an elec­tric first run of the Olympic gi­ant slalom to put her­self in prime po­si­tion for a gold medal.

The 22-year-old Amer­i­can stand­out trails Manuela Moelgg of Italy by a scant 0.20 sec­onds head­ing into the fi­nal run Thurs­day af­ter­noon at Yong­py­ong Alpine Cen­ter. The sun was out and the wind muted.

Fi­nally, the women were rac­ing.

Shiffrin was just happy for that, given all the post­pone­ments due to weather and strong wind. The women’s gi­ant slalom was ini­tially sched­uled for Mon­day but moved to Thurs­day. The slalom was sup­posed to be Wed­nes­day but got pushed to Fri­day.

Down the road about 30 miles (50 kilo­me­ters) in Jeongseon, the men are rac­ing the Olympic down­hill Thurs­day. That was sup­posed to take place Sun­day.

“Oh my gosh, last night, I was like, ‘Are we ever go­ing to race?!”’ Shiffrin said, laugh­ing. “It’s re­ally nice. And it’s fair to­day, which is re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant, es­pe­cially at the Olympics. The con­di­tions are great. The weather is beau­ti­ful. And it’s a plea­sure to be rac­ing to­day.”

The top 30 fin­ish­ers from the first run go in re­verse or­der for the fi­nal run, with their times com­bined to de­ter­mine the win­ner. Shiffrin will be sec­ond to last. Moelgg was the first racer on the course and fin­ished in a blis­ter­ing time of 1 minute, 10.62 sec­onds. Her best fin­ish at the Olympics was 11th in the slalom at the 2010 Van­cou­ver Games. The 34-year-old Moelgg has never won a World Cup race.

On her through the first course, pass Shiffrin de­scribed the snow as “chat­tery” in the mid­dle sec­tion, mean­ing she — along with every­one else — was in for a bumpy ride.

“I still think every­one had some first-run jit­ters. So what you saw there from any­body, it wasn’t re­ally a good de­pic­tion of what we can all do,” Shiffrin said. “So sec­ond run is go­ing to be like a new race. I think it’ll be re­ally, re­ally in­ter­est­ing.”

Shiffrin fin­ished fifth in the GS at the 2014 Sochi Games. She’s the de­fend­ing Olympic slalom cham­pion.

Com­ing into these Win­ter Games, there was talk about Shiffrin pos­si­bly chas­ing af­ter not one or two but five medals. Given the com­pacted sched­ule due to all the de­lays, the plan could be al­tered. The flip-flop­ping has been par­tic­u­larly bur­den­some.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult few days, but it’s all about re­main­ing pos­i­tive and re­main­ing en­er­gized and ex­cited to get the Games go­ing,” said Mike Day, Shiffrin’s coach. “At this point, the dif­fi­cult days are just mo­ti­va­tion for ac­tu­ally get­ting to com­pete. We’re bat­tling a lit­tle bit of fa­tigue from go­ing up and down the gon­dola ev­ery day, and the ex­cite­ment of get­ting ready to race and the dis­ap­point­ment of not get­ting to race. But we’re in good shape.”

MICHAEL PROBST — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Amer­i­can Mikaela Shiffrin skis dur­ing the first run of the Women’s Gi­ant Slalom 2018 Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thurs­day. at the

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