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Editor’s note: Mikaela Shiffrin wound up 18th in Tuesday’s wind-delayed downhill. Corinne Suter of Switzerland won the gold, and 2018 Olympic downhill gold medalist Sofia Goggia of Italy claimed the silver, just .16 seconds behind Suter (Shiffrin was nearly 2.5 seconds back). Shiffrin plans to race in the combined event on Thursday (late Wednesday in Colorado) and the team event on Saturday (late Friday in Colorado).
Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards will race in tonight’s Olympic downhill (Tuesday morning in Beijing), marking the first time in her three trips to the Olympics that she’s competed in the marquee speed event of alpine skiing.
Shiffrin tweeted her confirmation on Monday morning Colorado time, with a Valentine’s Day shoutout to her Norwegian double-medalist boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde: “Lil’ Valentine. (Racing DH tomorrow! The track is spectacular and I have ‘overthought’ the crap out of it over the last couple of days so it’s prob time to point ’em straight and get low.)
Shiffrin has “just” two downhill victories among her 73 career wins on the women’s World Cup circuit — second only to former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn’s 82. But the vast majority of Shiffrin’s wins (47) have been in the slower, turnier technical event of slalom. Vonn, an Olympic gold medalist in downhill in 2010, won 43 times in the faster, more straight-forward event of downhill.
Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Kilde, is more of a speed specialist, and came into Beijing a favorite in the speed events of downhill and super-G. He finished out of the medals in downhill but won a bronze in the super-G and a silver in the combined event, which includes one run of downhill and one run of slalom.
Shiffrin also won a silver medal in combined at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, and she’ll be among the medal favorites in that event at these Olympics (Wednesday night in Colorado, Thursday in China). So competing in the downhill will give Shiffrin some additional training time on the track.
A close rival of Shiffrin’s, and a medal favorite in the combined, won’t be racing that event on Thursday. Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, the gold medalist in slalom in Beijing, left the Games to nurse a sore ankle and get ready for the rest of the World Cup season. The defending overall World Cup champion trails Shiffrin by just 17 points with four regular-season tour stops left on the calendar.
Shiffrin is still seeking her first medal at these Games after surprisingly skiing out of the course early in her signature tech events of slalom and giant slalom and failing to finish. One more medal of any color would tie her with Julia Mancuso for the most Olympic medals by an American woman with four.
One more gold for the two-time Olympic gold medalist (slalom in 2014 and GS in 2018) would set an American record for most gold medals by a U.S. alpine ski racer in a career with three.
The downhill will air on NBC and Peacock at 8 p.m. Mountain Time on Monday.