PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Persistent high winds caused officials to postpone the women’s giant slalom Monday, delaying Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympic debut and further squeezing an already dense Alpine skiing schedule at the PyeongChang Games.
Officials from the International Ski Federation (FIS) postponed the giant slalom, in which the American is among a small group of favorites, until Thursday, meaning it will be contested on the same day as the men’s downhill, traditionally a marquee Olympic event. The men’s downhill had already been moved from Sunday, when winds tore across the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, making conditions too dangerous to race.
The forecast for Tuesday, when the men’s combined is scheduled, also calls for winds that could gust up to 40 mph.
“It’s a bummer that we’re not able to race today,” Shiffrin said in a statement. “But with the training block I’ve had, I’m prepared and feeling good. I’ll use this time to continue to train and refocus on Wednesday’s slalom race. We have a great gym and space to eat and take plenty of naps, so I’ll use this time to recharge.”
Shiffrin’s first race at these Olympics, should the program not be further disrupted, would now be in her signature event, the slalom. She won gold in the race four years ago in Sochi, and she has five victories in seven World Cup slaloms so far this season.
But if the winds don’t stop, there is potential for more upheaval. There are two dates remaining with no scheduled competition — Feb. 19 and 20 — but those are reserved for training runs in the women’s downhill. However, because the Alpine competition here is held at two venues — Jeongseon Alpine Centre for the speed races and Yongpyong Alpine Centre for the technical events — officials can decide to hold two competitions on a single day, as they did with the women’s giant slalom and the men’s downhill.
Though Shiffrin, 22, is a heavy favorite in the slalom, she is also a strong contender for medals in other disciplines. She sits third in the World Cup giant slalom standings behind Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg and France’s Tessa Worley, and she has two giant slalom victories this World Cup season.
Shiffrin has not announced her entire program here, though she figures to ski in the women’s combined — one run of downhill and one of slalom — on Feb. 23. She does have one downhill victory this season, the first of her career, and it’s possible she will add that event and the super-G as well.
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