Mikaela Shiffrin tops downhill practice ahead of Beijing 2022 combined

The American finished one second ahead of reigning Olympic champion Michelle Gisin in the downhill training run on Wednesday.

By Alessandro Poggi
Picture by Getty Images

Mikaela Shiffrin clocked the fastest time on Thursday (16 February) in the downhill training session ahead of the alpine combined event at Beijing 2022.

12 out of 26 competitors opted not to start the run, including potential medal hopefuls Elena Curtoni of Italy and Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria.

The American showed significant progress in speed after placing 18th in her first-ever Olympic downhill: she crossed the line in a time of 1 minute 33.56 seconds, which was 0.80 seconds quicker than her time on Wednesday's race.

Reigning combined Olympic champion Michelle Gisin finished exactly one second off the pace with the fourth fastest time. Fellow Swiss Wendy Holdener, silver medallist in PyeongChang, was 0.93 seconds slower than Shiffrin, followed by Ester Ledecka who was just 0.01 seconds behind.

"I think a lot is possible," said Holdener after the practice.

The Swiss also mentioned her favourites for the event : "Of course Michelle (Gisin) and Mikaela (Shiffrin), then also Federica (Brignone). Everyone that has good downhill (skills) and can ski slalom will be hot."

Shiffrin announced on Wednesday that she would also compete in the mixed team event on Saturday (19 February), becoming the second woman after Petra Vlhova in 2018 to race in a record six events at the Winter Olympics. The Slovak, who won slalom gold in Beijing, was forced to withdraw from the remaining events due to an ankle tendon injury.

26-year-old Shiffrin, who is yet to win a medal at this Olympics, said she had "learned a lot" after finishing nearly two seconds and a half behind winner Corinne Suter on Wednesday.

"I feel I have a lot to learn in downhill and I'm trying to take a crash course just in these last few days...for the combined race," Shiffrin said.

She added that she had watched hours of video to analyse the 'Rock' course and her work seems to have paid off today.

Since 2010, the combined has consisted of a downhill run and a slalom, and at these Games is scheduled to be the last individual medal available for the skiers.

Schedule: How to watch Shiffrin at the combined event

The combined takes place on Thursday (17 February) at the Yanqing National Skiing Centre: the downhill starts at 10:30am local time (3:30am CET, 18:30 PST on Wednesday), while the slalom takes place at 14:00 (07:00am CET, 22:00 PST on Wednesday).

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