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Shiffrin raring to go, with FIS confident of racing

Mikaela Shiffrin of the US has said she is raring to get her Olympic quest for a multiple medal haul under way after today’s wind-lashed slalom was postponed. AFP
Mikaela Shiffrin of the US has said she is raring to get her Olympic quest for a multiple medal haul underway after today’s wind-lashed slalom was postponed. AFP

Shiffrin raring to go, with FIS confident of racing

American Mikaela Shiffrin admitted that, despite raring to get her Olympic quest for a multiple medal haul underway, the decision to postpone today’s wind-lashed slalom was the correct one.

Gusting winds forced the International Ski Federation (FIS) into postponing a third race of the alpine programme after the men’s downhill and women’s giant slalom were also rescheduled.

“It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to race today, but it is important we have a fair race for all of the athletes,” said Shiffrin, who could realistically target at least four medals in Pyeongchang.

“Today’s conditions would definitely not have been fair.”

Shiffrin, who won Olympic slalom gold in Sochi at the age of 18 – a year after bagging the first of her world titles, was accepting of the strong winds that have been buffeting the Jeongseon and Yongpyong ski sites for the Pyeongchang Games.

“Weather delays and postponements are just the nature of an outdoor sport,” said the American, who has racked up 55 victories on the World Cup circuit.

“We’ll continue to take it day by day, and I look forward to getting in the start gate!”

Atle Skaardal, chief race director for women’s FIS races, said he was optimistic of staging both the giant slalom and slalom on Thursday and Friday respectively.

“It was a long and difficult day today,” said the former Norwegian racer, twice a super-G world champion.

“We felt that the only right thing to do in the end was to go for rescheduling.”

Skaardal added that FIS had “a very good opportunity” of hosting the two women’s races on “favourable days for the forecast”.

“We hope we can have races under decent, acceptable conditions. Everyone’s very eager to get some racing done.

“We hope for calm winds tomorrow,” he added, warning that it was “too much to hope for windstill”.

‘Roll with the punches’

Paul Kristofic, head coach of the US women’s team, said it was just a question of rolling with the punches.

“Everyone is a little bummed out when a day like this happens, but they do happen, so we’re quite used to it,” said Kristofic, who with Shiffrin and speed queen Lindsey Vonn on his team will be hoping for a major medal haul.

“When you have gusty winds like that, it is difficult to have a fair race, and the weather forecast called for winds to increase throughout the afternoon, right around our proposed start time for both runs, so that was a red flag for officials as well.

“We’ve been through days like this before, in the World Cup, quite often and the number one thing is safety and the second thing is to have a good, fair race.

“Neither of those were achievable today.

“We roll with the punches and make the best of the situation and try to prepare the best we can for the next day.”

The official forecast FIS is using predicts a downturn in temperatures today, dipping to -14 degrees Celsius (6.8 Fahrenheit) with windchill at the 10:00 am (0100 GMT) start of Thursday’s first leg of the giant slalom, with a much decreased wind speed of 14.7km/h.

Friday is predicted to be even colder (-16C), with the start of the slalom due to kick off with winds of 25km/h, according to the Korea Metrological Administration.

“I wish you all good luck tomorrow and us as well, I hope we can have a great race day on the hill,” Skaardal signed off to the captains of the women’s teams in Yongpyong.

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