PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — It appears the skiing world has finally found the secret to slow Mikaela Shiffrin in her marquee technical events: weather. For the second time in three days, Shiffrin’s Pyeongchang debut was pushed back due to inclement conditions.
On Monday it was howling winds that forced the postponement of the giant slalom, and on Wednesday morning it was a combination of wind, light snow and poor visibility. Shiffrin’s Olympic debut will now be pushed to Thursday for the rescheduled giant slalom. Wednesday’s slalom has been moved to Friday.
“We’ve been through this before in the World Cup quite often,” said U.S. coach Paul Kristofic. “The No. 1 thing is safety and the second is having a good, fair race, and neither one of those were achievable today.”
Wednesday’s postponement means that Shiffrin could now potentially compete on back-to-back-to-back days should she elect to enter in the Super G on Saturday. Prior to these Games, there were some who suggested that Shiffrin could possibly be the first skier to medal in all five disciplines in the same Olympics. Shiffrin has never reached the podium in a World Cup Super-G race.
Now that task just got more challenging. Three straight days of racing — and the pomp and circumstance that come with it — would be followed by three downhill training sessions, and then the downhill race on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Weather permitting, of course.
“It compresses the schedule so it makes it a much more hectic five to six days as we approach the speed events,” Kristofic said. “That’s something we will consider moving forward.”
Said Shiffrin’s coach, Mike Day: “It’s a very heavy load. She has now been on snow for four straight days with the postponed races. That will make six days in a row when we complete the slalom.”
The start of Wednesday’s slalom was initially postponed 30 minutes, then an hour, before race officials finally made the decision to postpone, as winds were supposed to pick up later in the day.
Earlier this week in the women’s slopestyle event, several riders were critical that racing was held in adverse conditions, with one Dutch snowboarder insisting the competition was a lottery.
“They were looking at how strong the wind is, visibility and fairness of course,” Kristofic said. “To run in unstable conditions can go in your favor or against you. No one really wants to see that. So I think we’re in a good place.”
Wednesday’s postponement was the third alpine schedule change of the Pyeongchang Games. Sunday’s men’s downhill has also been rescheduled for Thursday. Kristofic said he is “optimistic” about the weather on Thursday, saying the wind is supposed to die down and the course is in “perfect condition.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.