As Alpine skiing’s mixed gender team event makes its second Winter Olympics appearance, Mikaela Shiffrin will compete for the sixth and final time at these Games.
The 26-year-old Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, finished ninth in women’s super-G and 18th in the downhill and skied out in the giant slalom, slalom and the slalom portion of the combined at these 2022 Winter Olympics. The disappointing performance has Shiffrin baffled yet demonstrating some weighty perspective while competing in all six Olympic Alpine events.
“Why do I keep coming back? Gosh knows it hurts more than it feels good lately,” Shiffrin tweeted after the combined Thursday, calling out some of the online abuse she has received since her first DNF. “I come back because those first 9 turns today were spectacular, really heaven. That’s where I’m meant to be and I’m stubborn as s—. So let’s go for some team event training tomorrow, and then the final race of this Olympics.”
Shiffrin will team up with Paula Moltzan, Tommy Ford, Luke Winters, A.J. Hurt and River Radamus.
“I’m really excited because it adds a really user-friendly, watchable event, to the Olympics,” Moltzan told On Her Turf. “Ski racing is not the easiest [to follow] whereas the team event is a head-to-head competition where you can see who’s faster.”
This knockout-format team event, one of nine mixed-gender events being staged (four of which are new), debuted at the 2005 world championships in Bormio, Italy, and was added as a regular event in the World Cup Finals beginning in 2006. Switzerland won the inaugural Olympic team event in 2018 with a team that featured slalom silver medalist Wendy Holdener, who followed up with a slalom bronze and a silver in the combined. Austria claimed silver and Norway took bronze to complete an all-European sweep.
How to watch alpine skiing’s mixed team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics:
The mixed team parallel slalom kicks off with the Round of 16 in the U.S. on Friday, Feb. 18, at 10 p.m. ET. The final races of the day are expected to take place at 12:46 p.m. local time (11:46 p.m. ET).
||Date / Time (U.S. Eastern)
||Date / Time (Beijing, China)
||How to Watch
|Alpine Skiing – Mixed Team Event
||2/18/22 10:00 PM
||2/19/22 11:00 AM
||NBC | Peacock | NBCOlympics.com
What are the U.S. team’s chances in the parallel slalom?
The U.S. faces stiff competition from the usual suspects, with Shiffrin’s 2022 Olympic finale grabbing its share of the spotlight.
While Shiffrin doesn’t regularly participate in the team competition, she hinted ahead oh her first race that she was interested in the event this time.
Moltzan believes the U.S. is a medal contender with Shiffrin in the lineup.
“She’s still the best in the world, and she’s gonna put on a fight,” said Moltzan, who is making her Olympics debut and finished eighth in the slalom and 12th in the giant slalom. “I think any athlete, when you’re paired head-to-head with them, is going to push harder than ever, and I think she will be totally fine with no experience in parallel in a while. … I think it will be no problem for her to step in and (be) the fastest competitor on the hill.”
In 2018, the U.S. team did not have stars like Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn or Ted Ligety in the lineup and lost in the first round to 13th-ranked Great Britain.
What countries will contend in the Olympic Alpine mixed team event?
Switzerland is the defending Olympic champion, and they followed up their 2018 Olympic gold with a win at the 2019 world championships. They currently lead the individual Alpine medal count, with five gold, one silver and three bronze. Among the Swiss medalists are Lara Gut-Behrami (gold in super-G, bronze in GS in 2022), Holdener (bronze in slalom, silver in combined) and Corinne Suter (gold in downhill).
Austria, silver medalist both at the 2018 Olympics and 2019 worlds, are second in the Alpine medal count with six – two gold, three silver and one bronze. They are led by 2021 women’s parallel giant slalom and slalom world champion Katharina Liensberger, who was part of the silver medal team in 2018 and won silver in the women’s slalom.
The Norwegians enter as the reigning world champions, and they were also on the podium four years ago with a bronze in PyeongChang. Sweden has medaled in five of the last six world championships (bronze in 2011, 2015, 2017; silver in 2013, 2021), while Germany won bronze at the 2021 worlds. Italy, bronze medalist at 2019 worlds, fields a strong team including three-time Olympic medalist Federica Brignone and world medalist Marta Bassino.
Why is the Alpine mixed team event special?
The parallel slalom is unique in Alpine in that it offers the intensity of a side-by-side duel with the emotion of a team event. Add in the excitement of it being the final Alpine skiing race of the Games, and it’s a recipe for “must-see” action.
“I think it’s a really fun event,” U.S. skier Megan McJames said in 2018. “We’re still working out the kinks, but both racing someone head-to-head and being able to train and race with the boys is super fun.”
“The course is short, so you have to be more precise than the slalom and GS; it’s a cool event that should be continued,” said Michael Matt, who was part of Austria’s silver in PyeongChang.
How does the Olympic Alpine mixed team parallel competition work?
As in 2018, the team competition will feature the 16 best teams seeded in a single-elimination bracket. The competition kicks off with a round of 16, followed by the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final.
The knockout format allows teams to include up to six skiers, but just four racers – two women, two men – compete in each round. Like other parallel slalom competitions, two opponents ski at the same time on two identical courses that sit side-by-side on the slope. The course uses GS gates, although they are slightly closer together than a traditional GS course. The country with the most points after the four races wins. If the teams tie at 2-2, the team with the best aggregate time wins. If both skiers fall or miss a gate, the skier who progressed the farthest wins the point.
While the event will be back at the National Alpine Ski Center in Yanqing, athletes will compete on a different track than was used for any of the women’s or men’s previous five events, moving to a slope that features wider terrain with less severe pitches laterally.
“You can’t really ski parallel on a really steep hill, because it’s just really difficult,” explained Moltzan. “So, it’s a pretty moderate hill with some built-in terrain, but it allows the event to be more fair from left to right. This hill is basically as straightforward as you get.”
On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi and NBC Olympics Research contributed to this report.
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