Mikaela Shiffrin Skis Out of Second Beijing Race, Doesn't Advance to Slalom Final

The 26-year-old won the gold medal in the women's slalom at the 2014 Sochi Games

Mikaela Shiffrin
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty

Mikaela Shiffrin won't defend her medal in the women's slalom.

In her second event of the 2022 Winter Olympics — and first return to the snow after a fall knocked her out of the giant slalom competition early — the 26-year-old once again skied out, shocking viewers.

She failed to finish her first run of the slalom after missing the fourth gate, earning a DNF, aka "did not finish."

In a tweet, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team said the DNF was "heartbreaking" for Shiffrin, but "she is ok," just "disappointed."

After the event, an emotional Shiffrin spoke to NBC about her result. "I think I just slipped, I mean I had every intention to go full gas. And there wasn't really space in the course to slip even, not even a little bit. I didn't give myself space for that, and in my experience, that mentality has brought my best skiing and today I went out on the fifth gate," she said, sighing several times before fighting back tears.

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When asked what she is still processing, Shiffrin said, "Pretty much everything. Makes me second guess, like the last 15 years, everything I thought I knew about my own skiing, slalom and racing mentality. Just processing a lot for sure. And I feel really bad, there's a lot more going on today than just my little situation but I feel really bad for doing that."

The Alpine skier previously won the gold in the women's slalom during her first Olympics in Sochi, back in 2014. During the 2018 Games, she came in fourth.

Shiffrin wasn't the only Team USA Olympian competing in the event early Wednesday morning (Eastern). Americans Paula Moltzan, Katie Hensien, AJ Hurt and Aruwin Salehhuddin were all taking part in the race.

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin. Robert F Bukaty/AP/Shutterstock

The slalom incident comes after Shiffrin's falter in the giant slalom, in which she was the defending champion. On Monday, she lost control just seconds into her first run and fell to her left hip, skiing out for the first time in years and breaking a 30-race streak.

Speaking to NBC after the giant slalom fall, Shiffrin admitted she was disappointed in her performance, noting that it was "hard" for her "not to dwell" on how the race played out. Still, she knew she needed to "rest focus on what I can control for the slalom."

Shiffrin is set to compete in three more events, including the women's Super-G on Thursday. She'll have a few days rest, before returning to the mountain for the women's downhill on Feb. 14, and later the combined.

In an interview with PEOPLE last year, Shiffrin spoke about the pressure Olympic athletes face both in competition and in the public eye. Specifically addressing fellow Olympian Simone Biles candid conversations around mental health during the Tokyo Games in 2021, Shiffrin told PEOPLE, "Having one of the most recognized and biggest voices in sports right now talk about this and show how real it is to [struggle], … it makes it a little bit easier to talk about."

The star added, "It gives all of us athletes the ability to say, 'Oh, you're not alone feeling that way. I'm not the only one who feels pressure.' "

Being open about mental health's ups and downs makes it easier for athletes to "figure out how we can deal with the pressure better when we all admit that it exists," Shiffrin said.

At the time, Shiffrin also said she wasn't too focused on setting win records, but rather skiing to the best of her ability. She explained, "My whole career, it's been successful. It's been highs and lows but I'm really proud of it. And I'm still racing. I'm not done yet, but I can look back and feel proud already."

To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Winter Olympics, now, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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