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Mikaela Shiffrin finally gets gold medal quest in skiing at Winter Olympics started

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Josh Peter

 |  USA TODAY Sports

 

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Mikaela Shiffrin began her much-anticipated debut at the 2018 Winter Olympics Thursday, with the American ski racer clocking a  1:10.82 in her first of two runs in the giant slalom competition at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.

She’s scheduled to take her second run Thursday afternoon, when the combined times of the races will determine the winner.

By the time Shiffrin reached the finish line of her first run, she had a good sense for where she stood. Each of the skiers ranked in the top five of the World Cup standings in the giant slalom had raced before Shiffrin, who was the seventh skier on the course.

Her time was second among the first nine skiers, and she told NBC her strategy on the second run would be to ”go for the gold. I’m going to be going for it. And we’ll see what happens.”

Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, who leads the World Cup standings in the event, won the bronze medal in the giant slalom at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and the gold medal in the giant slalom at the 2010 Olympics. Shiffrin finished fifth in the giant slalom in 2014, her first Olympics.

At the 2014 Games, Shiffiin at age 18 became the youngest skier to win a gold medal at the slalom.  But she’s got bigger ambitions here.

Shiffrin, 22, is expected to compete in all five individual Alpine events and win up to three gold medals.

Her medal quest was delayed twice by weather, with the giant slalom originally set for Sunday before being rescheduled for Thursday and the slalom set for Wednesday before being rescheduled for Friday.

“You have to be mentally ready, and then all of a sudden it’s cancelled. It’s like ‘What do we do?’ ‘’ Shriffrin told NBC with a laugh after Thursday’s first run.

After some disappointing performances leading up to the Winter Games, Shiffrin arrived in Pyeongchang a week and a half before the Olympics started and last week pronounced herself fit and ready.

“I got a bunch of rest, came here, got a little bit of training,” she said then. “I’m feeling much better. Much more like myself.”

Follow Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11

 

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