Shiffrin, Goggia take positive vibes from downhill training

BEIJING (AP) – For talented and successful alpine skiers like Mikaela Shiffrin and Sofia Goggia, the first of three scheduled downhill training runs would not be a significant event under normal circumstances, even at the Olympics.

However, their Saturday excursions through fog and the occasional fluttering snowflake were vital. For Shiffrin, because she’s not sure yet whether she’ll be going downhill on Tuesday. For defending champion Goggia because she hasn’t competed since severely injuring her left knee and leg in a fall on January 23rd.

“Today makes me feel a little more positive,” said Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from the United States, who didn’t finish her first runs in Monday’s giant slalom or Wednesday’s slalom at the Beijing Games and then finished ninth in Friday’s super-G . “I would like to ski this descent, that’s the plan. But…we’ll have to see how things go over the days.”

She didn’t push herself to the limit – no need for what amounts to a training session – and her ultimately inconsequential time of 1 minute, 34.80 seconds was the ninth fastest of all 46 starters, fifth fastest of those who did. don’t miss a goal.

“It felt strong and solid. And I was in a good position,” said Shiffrin, who hasn’t trained, let alone raced, on downhill skis since finishing 38th at the World Cup stop in Lake Louise, Alberta on Dec. 4. “It was never a scary point and just a little bit of that exhilarating feeling.”

Goggia was 0.14 seconds behind Shiffrin amid the first natural snow to fall at Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center since alpine skiing competitions began last week.

Goggia was scheduled to carry the Italian flag at the opening ceremony but delayed her arrival in China to try to rehabilitate and prepare for skiing after partially tearing a ligament in her left knee and a “minor fracture” in that leg as well as suffered a tendon damage during a Super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The day after her injury, she thought there was no way she would be on the slopes three weeks later.

“It was so tragic,” she said.

If she hadn’t been injured she would have been an overwhelming favorite to pick up another gold. Consider: Goggia has won the last eight World Cup downhill races she has finished, a streak that began in December 2020.

She couldn’t face the thought of not trying to defend her title, not at least getting a chance to go back to the Olympics and try.

After her first ride on a course known as “The Rock,” she lifted her ski poles to her helmet, looked up at the sky, and smiled.

Speaking to reporters in Italian a short time later, she kept using the same word: “Bellissima” — meaning “very beautiful.”

As in: “I felt the Bellissima feeling of the descent.”

Or: “An Olympic descent … is the best thing there is for me.”

Except when landing a jump, she said she didn’t really feel any pain in her knee, which was wrapped in a compression stocking and sports tape.

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“I’m glad I wasn’t scared at first,” she said. “I wasn’t overcome with fear, which I would have thought possible in the days before.”

Her competitors, including Shiffrin, were happy to see Goggia back.

“She’s probably the toughest person I’ve ever met. She just drove smart. She skied smoothly. She looks,” Shiffrin said, “like Sofia Goggia.”


AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.


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