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No medal thoughts as Shiffrin to race first Olympic downhill

BEIJING (AP) – Mikaela Shiffrin confirmed that she will, indeed, race a downhill at the Winter Olympics for the first time today. And she said she is changing how she thinks about what is at stake as she prepares for her fourth event in Beijing.

“It’ll be really nice to race tomorrow. But you don’t really come to the Olympics to feel nice,” Shiffrin said after finishing yesterday’s second training session on the course known as The Rock at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center with the 15th-fastest time among the women who didn’t miss a gate. “It’s going to be intense and a little bit of nerves, for sure.”

One unexpected bit of help, she said, arrived on Sunday, when what was supposed to be another training session was called off because of heavy snow.

Shiffrin said it was her only day off in a span of about two weeks.

“It was good to get some rest, some recovery, a little bit of kind of a strength session in and get the muscle priming,” she said.

Mikaela Shiffrin takes part in the women’s downhill third training session during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. PHOTO: AFP

The two-time gold medalist in Alpine skiing did not finish her opening runs in either of her initial two events, the two-leg giant slalom and slalom, before coming in ninth in the super-G, another race she hadn’t previously entered at an Olympics.

As someone who specialised in the technical disciplines of slalom and giant slalom, the speed events of downhill and super-G are still new and works-in-progress for Shiffrin. She has 47 World Cup victories in slalom – more than any other person in any race – and 14 in giant slalom, with four in super-G and two in downhill.

And although she said, “There’s always some part of you that’s thinking, ‘Maybe there’s a chance,’” when it comes to getting a top-three result today, Shiffrin gave some fresh insight into her mindset.

“I’m not focussing on the medal anymore. It’s just trying to do my best execution every day. Anyway, that’s my best shot at a medal. So it’s a little bit of maybe a paradox… that your best chance to have that performance is to stop thinking about the performance and to focus on what you’re doing in that moment,” the 26-year-old Shiffrin said.

“So I’m just trying to be present in the moment, especially with the downhill.”

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