KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin came to the Sochi Games hoping for two medals. Didn't matter one bit that she's only 18 or that she's at her first Olympics.
After a fifth-place finish in the giant slalom, the American gets to race Friday in her specialty, the slalom, which she has ruled for the past two years, including a world championship and World Cup title. She's won eight of the past 18 slaloms; no one else has won more than two in that span.
It's the last women's event on the Alpine hill at Rosa Khutor, and the second leg will be under the lights at night.
"I've been preparing for this for my entire life, really. Whether I knew it or not at the time, every single instance, every event that's happened to me — it's been preparation for this and preparation for whatever happens in my future," Shiffrin said. "I've always been really aware of that."
That's why Shiffrin was able to smile and even laugh and, at least publicly, brush aside whatever disappointment she might have felt when she wound up out of the medals in the giant slalom on Tuesday.
Asked that day which of her two GS runs she would like to redo, she replied: "I wouldn't redo any of them. I think this was supposed to happen."
In what way?
"I believed that I wasn't going to win my first World Cup slalom race until I was ready, because if I won it a minute sooner, then I wouldn't be able to continue to win," explained Shiffrin, who lives in Eagle-Vail, Colo.
"And I think it's the same for my first GS. I was really thinking that my first GS win would be at the Olympics, and that would be such a cool thing to accomplish. But it's just something that I accept: I got fifth today," she said. "There are four girls who skied better than I did, and I'm really excited to analyze their skiing and analyze mine."
The GS winner was Tina Maze of Slovenia, who also took gold in the downhill, and can become only the second woman in Olympic history with three titles at a single Winter Games. Janica Kostelic of Croatia did it at the 2006 Turin Olympics.