Mikaela Shiffrin vs. Lindsey Vonn: Alpine Combined Provides a Rare Showdown

Lindsey Vonn has some fun after finishing her downhill training run at the Pyeong Chang Olympics. More

"I didn't even know how many I would ski", Shiffrin told reporters after the combined. These Games, and this point in Shiffrin's life, will be recalled as historic. For Vonn, medal prospects were akin to - in her words - Russian roulette.

Gisin won with a combined time of two minutes 20.90, almost a second ahead of pre-race favorite Shiffrin.

The last race on the Alpine side will be Saturday with the team event making its Olympic debut.

The 33-year-old American skiing star, who missed the Sochi Olympics while recovering from a knee injury, is a seven-time medalist at the world championships and has a total of 81 World Cup circuit victories in her career, including four during the current season.

Of course, in the present, the moment is more complex.

She came to Pyeongchang with a lot of external expectation around her as she targeted potentially competing in five different medal events.

Bode Miller said earlier in the broadcast that Shriffin, 1.98 seconds back, still had a chance to make up the deficit in the slalom, her specialty.

Lindsey Vonn, leader in the downhill, failed to finish the slalom.

"The slope wasn't that good anymore, it wasn't that smooth so in the end I thought it was going to be fourth place. Then I had a tougher day in the slalom (she finished fourth) but it still feels good though".

Her downhill run looked so commanding, the Vonn of old as she fearlessly set a time 0.74 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. "But I have this sort of feeling like, 'Ah!' I want to put out a run that I know, like, I can be really proud of".

"Coming out here today, I did everything that I needed to do to have a shot for a medal, and it's really cool to have that work out", she said. Numerous top racers such as Hirscher, Vonn and Shiffrin are planning to skip the race - and another chance at a medal - to prepare for the resumption of the World Cup schedule. The Olympics often bring a cascade of changes to routine, and these Games were no exception. She approached Thursday's combined calmer than usual, it was a case of, "Hey, let's see what I can do", she said.

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"It was like someone was playing a game of ping-pong in my brain", she said. It's fair to say that every skier in the field had to deal with the same issues that upset Shiffrin.

The event began Thursday morning in Pyeongchang with Vonn and fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin in position for a medal following the downhill portion of the event. She described the location as "right by the men's downhill start".

"And on my first day back on my skis after a couple days of rest, I felt bad", she said. Then just as she was locking in, the winds on the mountain picked up and blew the race schedule all over the calendar. She wobbled badly on a side-hill early, killing her momentum, and paid a price the rest of the way down.

"I wouldn't say that I have an ax to grind with my slalom", Shiffrin said. "I'm not where I used to be and I never will be, and that's probably the hardest thing for me to take". "I'm not on that level [in downhill] yet".

Swiss racers went 1-3, Michelle Gisin winning gold, Wendy Holdener bronze.

Vonn, to date the greatest skier in United States history, was the last to race in Thursday's super combined competition in South Korea. Shiffrin skied serviceably on the top of the slalom course before ripping the bottom to take the lead.

Gisin was able to hold off Shiffrin, who's one of the world's best slalom skiers.

"It's awesome to be on the podium with two such incredible skiers", Gisin said.

"The miracle didn't happen, but I gave it my best effort".

But Vonn offered some words of caution about Shiffrin, who for quite some time, fairly or not, has been labeled "The Next Lindsey Vonn". They do not train together and, 11 years apart, are not close friends. It was an unfortunate way for Vonn to go out. "[Shiffrin] can ski for 10 more years and have a lot more medals and a lot more World Cups". She leaves her final Olympic showing with one medal from the downhill. Her future is an unwritten book.

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