Skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin aims for 3rd Olympic gold medal

BEIJING (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin’s first Olympic event at the Beijing Olympics was the one she won four years ago.

The 26-year-old from Colorado is set to defend her title in the giant slalom, which will be part of primetime coverage of the Winter Games on NBC on Sunday – although anyone who wants to watch until the end should plan to be late. The second of two giant slalom runs is scheduled to start after midnight EST.

The giant slalom is the first meeting between Shiffrin and Slovak Petra Vlhova, whose rivalry is expected to span several skiing events at these Olympics. Vlhova finished 13th in Pyeongchang in 2018 in this event, but she won the world title a year later.

Shiffrin’s two medals in 2018 were her gold in the giant slalom and a silver in the combined, and she also won the slalom in 2014. She also has three World Cup titles.

Everyone in the sport is keeping tabs on Shiffrin and some remember the first time they saw her coming down a hill on skis. Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller says he’s a huge fan and calls Shiffrin the best runner he’s ever seen. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety describes it as a manual for ski technique.

The first giant slalom run is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC. The second broadcast will air live on the network’s late night coverage. USA Network will also have live coverage of the first inning.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who Shiffrin is dating, is due to race on Monday after the men’s downhill was pushed back a day due to too much gusts at the scheduled start.

At the top of the speed course, known as The Rock, the wind was blowing at 30mph, gusting up to 40mph, when Sunday’s men’s race was originally scheduled to start at 11am Beijing time.

Kilde is seen as the man to beat in the downhill. The Norwegian leads the World Cup standings in this event and was the fastest in training in China on Friday.

Wind was also a problem for alpine skiing at the Pyongchang Games in 2018, where several races were postponed and the schedule was reshuffled several times.

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