Despite not contending for a medal, the result brought an enormous boost of confidence for Shiffrin after the 26-year-old Alpine skiing great stunningly skied out in her two best events – the giant slalom and slalom – earlier at the Winter Games.
“To be honest that was quite a big relief,” Shiffrin said following her super-G run. “I think today I proved to myself that I can still trust my instincts a bit, and that’s really, really huge.”
Shiffrin, who had never before entered an Olympic super-G race, started the day with a tweet. “Today is Super G, and Super G is fun. I can’t express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to refocus on a new race, in the sport that I love so much,” the American star wrote.
She seemed to embody that attitude during the race, skiing relaxed and in control, if not blisteringly fast. She was all smiles at the finish area, then enthusiastically radioed course intel up to her three American teammates who were waiting for their turns down the course.
While Shiffrin was always an outside medal contender in super-G – she hadn’t raced or trained in the event for over nine weeks prior to arriving – her participation kept alive the chance that she could compete in all five individual Alpine events at the Winter Olympics.
When asked about her remaining schedule, Shiffrin said she would make a decision about the women’s downhill following three training sessions Saturday through Monday, pointing out that she hasn’t raced in a downhill event since early December. She confirmed plans to ski the women’s combined event, in which she is the defending silver medalist, February 17.
Prior to the super-G, a U.S. Ski Team spokesperson said that Shiffrin would skip media interviews "for the foreseeable future.” However, the Colorado native changed course and expressed immense appreciation for the support she has received over the course of her difficult Winter Olympics experience.
“I never would’ve felt that humans could be so kind,” Shiffrin said. “It’s the most surprising thing of my Olympic experience is how kind people have been in the face of my failure."
It is failure. It’s okay to say that. I am okay with that. And I’m sorry for it, but I also was trying.”
Surprise 2018 gold medalist Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic finished fifth after repeating as Olympic champion in snowboard parallel giant slalom earlier in the week.