PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Not feeling so hot, Mikaela Shiffrin was fourth after a steady opening run of the Olympic slalom Friday as she tries to defend her title.
The American standout was 0.48 seconds behind leader Wendy Holdener of Switzerland heading into the second run later in the day. There were seven competitors all within a second of Holdener’s time of 48.89 seconds.
Shiffrin, who won the giant slalom the day before, was asked in an NBC interview about throwing up before stepping into the starting gate for her slalom run.
”That was kind of sudden. It almost felt like a virus,” Shiffrin said, laughing. ”Kind of puking, less about nerves. But we’ll see.”
Shiffrin won the slalom four years ago at the Sochi Games and is aiming to become the first to defend his or her Olympic title in the discipline.
She said she was a little drained after all the interviews and other commitments that followed her win in the giant slalom on Thursday. The medal ceremony didn’t start until around 8 p.m., and she didn’t get to bed until 10 p.m., which is very late for her these days.
”It was certainly not normal preparation, but I also knew going into these Olympics that it’s not normal races, it’s not normal preparation, so I have to be prepared for anything,” Shiffrin said. ”I don’t think that, in and of itself, had a huge impact on my first run today.”
She played things conservative on her first run but still remains well within striking distance. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was in second position, 0.20 seconds out, and her teammate Anna Swenn-Larsson was 0.40 seconds back, in third.
”I know that I have a lot more speed in me,” the 22-year-old Shiffrin said. ”Just (need to) let it go down the hill more in the second run and it’ll be quite a bit faster. But, yeah, we’ll see.”
Holdener is vying to become the first Swiss racer to capture an Olympic medal in the women’s slalom since Vreni Schneider’s gold in 1994.
”It’s not finished yet,” Holdener said. ”I’ll try to do the same as I did in the first run, concentrate on my skiing, try to stay calm and do my best.”
On Saturday, Lindsey Vonn will make her Pyeongchang Games debut in the super-G at the speed course in Jeongseon. Vonn missed the Sochi Games with a knee injury.
Vonn said on her Twitter account Friday: ”Getting amped up! One day to go!!!”
Shiffrin will skip the super-G race.
AP Sports Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to this report.