BEIJING (AP), -- Mikaela Shiffrin was asked a simple question by reporters following her second quick exit from the Beijing Games Alpine skiing race.
The complex, thought-out, and talked-out answers she received did not include any analysis of her actual ski performance. It lasted only five seconds before things went wrong in Wednesday's second run of the two leg slalom. Monday's run of Tuesday's two-leg giant took about half the time. But it came down to this: Shiffrin was not sure exactly what brought her here or where she is going.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist, the tears dripping down her cheeks, said that she had never been in such a position before and that she didn't know how to deal with it.
The 26-year old from Colorado won the slalom and giant slalom at both the 2014 Sochi Games as well as the slalom at 2018 Pyeonchgang Games. She was seventh to race out of the starting line on Wednesday, following a course that Mike Day, her coach, had set.
Within four seconds, she lost her balance and began to lose control. Four gates later, she started to swerve too far to her right and soon lost her control. She ended up far beyond the fifth gate when her right ski pole's neon yellow handle scraped the snow.
Shiffrin walked over to the side and clicked her skis off. She then sat down on the ground, shook her head, and placed her elbows on her knees. This will be the most memorable image of the day. Back in the U.S., NBC's coverage lingers on Shiffrin's shot, drawing anger from some viewers. It also reflects on the Olympics for someone who arrived in China in the midst of the biggest stars in any Winter Games sport.
She said, "GS and Slalom were my main focuses." It really does feel like a lot of work, but it's not.
Others racers stated that the top was not difficult or slippery. Katharina Liensberger, the reigning world champion in slalom -- who won the silver behind Wednesday's gold medalist Petra Vlhova from Slovakia -- described it as "a really easy course."
Shiffrin's main World Cup rival, Vlhova, rose from eighth place in the first run to victory with a combined time 1 minute, 44.98 second. She won the first ever Olympic Alpine medal for Slovakia.
Shiffrin was the closest Shiffrin got to explaining what went wrong. She said she was trying too hard to attack too many people.
She said that she was pushing, and maybe she was pushing too far.
Shiffrin arrived at Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center with the intention of entering all five races. A second gold would make her the second woman to win at most one Alpine race at three Olympics.
Shiffrin has so far been 0 for 2.
It's not surprising that she hasn’t won a medal or a gold this week. Shiffrin reminds us all that anything can happen at any time. Surprisingly, she was so off her game in both of her trips on the Ice River course.
It's very sad. It's not fun to go out," Anna Swenn Larsson from Sweden, was 11th on the first run. "I feel the same way."
Shiffrin could be competing in Friday's super-G. However, she suggested that she may consider skipping this one. She said: "It would have been a pleasure to ski. However, I have teammates who are very fast and can fill in the gaps. What's the point of skipping out to the fifth gate?
Although she has never competed in super-G at an Olympics, she did win it at 2019 world championships.
It is also noteworthy that Shiffrin has a reputation for being a consistent skier, much like a metronome who never skips a beat. Although she might be slower than the other athletes on a given days -- no one is perfect -- what she rarely does is fail to execute a maneuver so that it doesn't even get her down the hill. Monday's "Did not Finish" was her first giant slalom since January 23, 2018.
She has won 47 World Cup slalom titles in her career, more than any other competitor.
"I have learned throughout my career to trust in my skiing, if it is good skiing, and that's all I can rely on. She said that although the pressure was high, it didn't seem like the most pressing issue. "So it's still not the end of all the world and it's stupid to care so much, but I feel like I need to question a lot right now."
Shiffrin shared many of her thoughts and feelings over the past few months via traditional media as well as social media. She spoke out about how she felt empathy for athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, such as Simone Biles, gymnast, and Caeleb Dressel, who shared their feelings regarding pressure and expectations.
Shiffrin is open about the difficult task that lies ahead of her after Jeff's accidental death in February 2020.
Shiffrin said Monday that she would love to call him right now, but it doesn't make things easier. She paused between the words, her voice shaking.
She laughed and said, "And he probably would tell me to just forget it." He's not here to tell me that. "So, on top of all that, I'm also angry at him."