KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Standing in a steady downpour at the bottom of the giant slalom course, Mikaela Shiffrin called her Olympic debut “pretty spectacular.” That’s how unpredictable weather conditions and slushy snow looked to the 18-year-old American ski racing prodigy.
The day ended with a soaked Shiffrin in fifth place, half a second behind gold medalist Tina Maze of Slovenia and .23 seconds out of the bronze-medal spot.
“Who gets to race their first Olympics in rain this bad when there’s still snow on the ground?” said Shiffrin with a smile.
True enough, though weather in the Sochi Games has been creating all kinds of unusual scenarios for competitors in the mountains, from cross-country skiers with cut-off sleeves to fog-related postponements. The first run of the women’s giant slalom Tuesday took place in snow on the higher sections and steady rain lower down. Sixth-place finisher Maria Pietila-Holmner likened the race surface to “skiing on sugar.”
After being originally moved earlier, the second run of the giant slalom was delayed 15 minutes because of driving snow and sleet.
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