Hansdotter wins gold in women's slalom; Shiffrin misses podium

Ratings slide a bit for NBC; the West Coast has advantage

The 22-year-old Shiffrin finished fourth in the women's Olympic slalom on Friday, failing to win her second medal in as many days.

"It was kind of sudden", she said. She won the slalom title four years ago in Sochi at age 18.

Shiffrin finished in 1:39.03.

"I don't think that in and of itself had a huge impact on my first run today", she said. All her life, she has had a love-love relationship with slalom.

The giant slalom was the first women's Alpine skiing race to take place at the Pyeongchang Games, after high winds forced it to be rescheduled from Monday and also caused Wednesday's slalom to be postponed.

The slalom did not start out well for Shiffrin.

"I don't feel sick right now, I don't think I have a virus", she told reporters.

Shiffrin told the media after the race that it was likely her nerves and that "I'm not contagious".

— Dutch speedskater Esmee Visser won gold in the women's 5,000-meter race, finishing in 6 minutes, 50.23 seconds.

Today Stiegler will compete in the event in which she's most comfortable.

As she tried to carve time out of the slalom course on her second run, Shiffrin flew down the mountain.

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"She brought out a lot more natural skiing in the second run that was far less rigid", coach Mike Day said. "It was certainly not normal preparation but I also knew that going into these Olympics that it's not normal races, it's not normal preparations, so I have to be prepared for anything". "I nearly felt like it was a virus, but now I'm pretty sure it wasn't. But after how I skied in the first run", and here she sighed deeply, "I just wasn't there".

Swiss Wendy Holdener took silver (1:38.68), Katharina Gallhuber of Austria bronze (1:38.95).

"I let myself feel too much yesterday [Thursday]", she said. "She's behind me, I can't believe it".

It was so bad, self-explanatory and pitiable that neither Tara Lipinski nor Johnny Weir, NBC's sharp-tongued figure skating analyst/critics, had much to say about it beyond calling it a disappointment. She has a string of top-seven slalom finishes this season though.

"I know I have the best slalom turns in the world but I didn't put it out in the two runs that mattered". Before heading off the course, she paused to watch the replay of her run on a large outdoor TV monitor. Last season, she showed her complete form by becoming the World Cup overall champion, a status that takes in finishes in all disciplines. "That was really taking risks and fighting for it and I'm so happy for that".

Oh, and then there's a medals ceremony, which is at PyeongChang Olympic Park away from the competition venues. Looking for breaking news, videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios all at your fingertips?

Yet after that hour's snooze in a lodge atop the mountain, followed by the impromptu skiing session with Mom, Shiffrin was able to perform at her best, which clearly is good enough.

The deficit means Shiffrin will have to ski aggressively but not so aggressively that she misses a gate and blows her chance to medal in an event that was supposed to be a lock for her.

"I know that ... this is going to sound so arrogant ..." Shiffrin entered the games hoping for five medals. Speaking to journalists after her first run, she alluded to the compressed schedule - and the disruption in her nightly routine. She realized it was a good performance (hence the scream). Switzerland's Beat Feuz was third in a race originally scheduled for Sunday.

"It's not normal races", Shiffrin said between slalom runs. And yeah, today is no different than that. "People talk about avoiding peaks and valleys, and I had too much of a peak yesterday and too much of a valley today". I was two-tenths off of the podium. I was feeling much more in control of myself.

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