Moltzan 12th In Olympic Debut
In her Olympic debut, Paula Moltzan posted the top finish for the U.S. women in Monday's giant slalom, tying with Norway's Maria Therese Tviberg in 12th. Moltzan, known for her prowess in the slalom, had minimal expectations for herself coming into Sunday's giant slalom. She just hoped to ski well. A quick bauble and an acrobatic save kept her in the fold and earned her the top finish for Team USA.
"I'm happy to be a little bit flexible," she laughed.
Mikaela Shiffrin, who walked into the day's race carrying the weight of gold-medal expectations on her shoulders, did not finish her first run, skiing out around the fifth gate.
The mistake was uncharacteristic of Shiffrin. When asked if she ever skis out in giant slalom, her response was "rarely." She knows questions will be asked, questions like "what went wrong." The meticulous skier spends so much time in training learning how to limit her risk of crashing that doing so in the Olympics is a shock to many. But Shiffrin knows she was pushing the first four turns. She knows where her mentality was at. Despite what she called a 'huge disappointment,' Shiffrin is already on to the next one.
"We point blame at a lot of places in the season, but I think the easiest thing to say is that I skied a couple good turns and I skied one turn a bit wrong, and I paid the hardest consequence for that. Now we have to move forward because there’s a lot still to come the next week."
The defending giant slalom Olympic gold medalist was not the only top skier who struggled right out of the gate. Italy's Marta Bassino of Italy made a similar mistake on the same gate and skied out of the course. New Zealand's Alice Robinson also lost her cool on the top section of the first run.
In the finish tent, Shiffrin stepped aside to take a moment to herself before facing the questions she knew were coming. In the same moment, Robinson sat crying and was being consoled by her physio. Shiffrin took notice and shared some words of wisdom.
"Stop crying," she said. "You can’t afford to lose that emotional energy right now. You got more shots. Figure out what you can figure out, and then you just have to let the rest go."
"It's just hard," responded Alice.
"Oh yeah, I know - that fourth and a half gate is a real b*tch."
Nina O'Brien made it through that fourth gate in both runs. Coming into her second, O'Brien was sitting sixth overall, on the edge of what could be a career-best result for her in the giant slalom. She pushed the limits and hauled through each turn, bobbling, then recovering, and continuing to carry speed despite her mistakes. Then, at the last gate, O'Brien caught an edge and crashed unexpectedly in a chaotic tangle of limbs and skis. She remained alert and responsive as medical staff rushed into the finish to tend to her, only concerned about holding up the race and how fast she was skiing. O'Brien has been transported with Team USA's medical staff for further evaluation. At the moment, there are no updates as to the extent of her injuries.
"I mean, we're at the Olympics," Moltzan commented when asked why she thinks so many athletes struggled on Sunday. "I think everyone is just trying to get their best skiing out there, and people are pushing to the limit, and when that happens, there's a breaking point."
The race went on to see Sweden's Sara Hector at the top of the podium, winning her first-ever Olympic gold. Italy's Federica Brignone took silver and Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami bronze. Fellow American AJ Hurt did not finish her first run.
Women's giant slalom
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST
Monday, Feb. 7, 2022
8:00 p.m. Primetime Freestyle Skiing Women's Big Air, Alpine Skiing Men's Super G, NBC Broadcast
10:00 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Men's Super G, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022
2:00 a.m. West Coast Encore – Women’s Big Air Final, Men’s super G & more, NBC Broadcast
8:00 p.m. Primetime Broadcast – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe, Alpine Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Mewn’s Big Air, NBC Broadcast
9:15 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Women’s Slalom Run 1, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022
12:45 a.m. Alpine – Alpine Skiing – Women’s Slalom Run 2, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
2:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
5:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
2:00 p.m. Daytime – Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Nordic Combined Men’s Normal Hill & 10km, Snowboarding Women’s Snowboardcross Final, NBC Broadcast
9:30 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Men’s Combined Downhill, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022
1:05 a.m. Primetime Plus – Alpine Skiing – Men’s Alpine Combined Slalom, NBC Broadcast
1:15 a.m. Alpine Skiing, Men’s Combined Slalom, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
8:00 p.m. Primetime – Alpine Skiing Women’s Super G (Live), Snowboarding Men’s Halfpipe Final (Live), Freestyle Mixed Team Aerials Final, NBC Broadcast
10:00 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Women’s Super G, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, Streaming Peacock, NBCOlympics.com