'Can't believe it': Winter Olympics rocked by 'shocking' moment

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Mikaela Shiffrin, pictured here crashing out of the giant slalom in extraordinary scenes.
Mikaela Shiffrin crashed out of the giant slalom in extraordinary scenes. Image: Channel 7/Getty

America was left shattered at the Winter Olympics on Monday when defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin crashed out of the giant slalom event in shocking scenes.

Shiffrin missed a gate early in the first run of the event in Beijing and was disqualified.

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Coming around a left-turn gate, the American star lost her ski's edge and fell on her side.

The 26-year-old was trying to become the first Alpine ski racer from the country to win three Olympic gold medals.

"The defending champion is out," one TV commentator said in disbelief.

"Oh my word, that is a major shock here at Beijing 2022."

A co-commentator added: "Wow what a shock that is.

"She just lost her grip a little bit, got low in the line. She tried to recover but that slick, icy surface doesn't allow her to get any grip on the edges."

Mikaela Shiffrin, pictured here crashing during the women's giant slalom at the Winter Olympics.
Mikaela Shiffrin crashes during the women's giant slalom at the Winter Olympics. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Fans and commentators also took to social media in disbelief.

"That Shiffrin fall was one of those moments in sports that is so shocking it doesn't [feel] real," wrote Tim Layden of NBC.

"I immediately thought of Usain Bolt false-starting out of the 2011 World Championships. Stadium just went silent."

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Shiffrin wasn't the only athlete to fall victim to the icy giant slalom course, with a number of other competitors also crashing.

The Beijing Olympics are the first in history to use 100 per cent artificial snow due to the cold but dry climate.

Shiffrin arrived in China as one of the most-watched athletes in any sport at the Winter Olympics, a superstar who has dominated ski racing for long stretches in recent years.

She has said she hoped to enter all five individual events at Yanqing Alpine Skiing Centre.

Her next race is the slalom on Wednesday. Shiffrin won that at age 18 at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Shiffrin has spoken openly about the pressure created by the weight of expectations - her own, of course, and those of fans, but also coaches, friends and family.

She also is up-front about the burden of dealing with the accidental death of her father, Jeff, two years ago.

Her debut in Beijing was over quickly. She slipped and tried to right herself, but it was too late.

Eventually, Shiffrin got up and stopped on the side of the hill at the course known as The Ice River, stuck her poles in the snow and put her hands on her hips.

with Associated Press

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