YANQING, China :Defending Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin crashed out of the women's giant slalom on her first run at the Winter Games while Swede Sara Hector took top spot after taming the 'Ice River' course on a dramatic Monday at the Yanqing Alpine Centre.
American Shiffrin, who came out seventh, was not injured as her skis slid out from under her as she pushed into the turns coming down, causing her to miss a gate. She got back on her skis and made her way slowly down the rest of the course.
Hector, who leads the World Cup rankings in giant slalom this season, set the pace with a time of 57.56 seconds, 0.30 ahead of Austria's Katharina Truppe and 0.42 faster than Italian Federica Brignone in third.
Slovenian Meta Hrovat was in fourth place, with Pyeongchang silver medallist Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway in fifth.
The medals will be decided after the second run, which begins at 1430 local time (0630 GMT).
Shiffrin, 26, said her run was a "huge disappointment".
"I was pushing. I felt that I was really pushing in those turns," she added. "It's hard to know how it would have gone the rest of the run ... the day was finished basically before it even started."
Shiffrin plans to compete in all five women's events at the Games this year and will race in her favourite discipline, the slalom, on Wednesday.
"I'm not going to cry about this because that's just wasting energy," she added. "My best chance for the next races is to move forward, to refocus and I feel like I'm in a good place to do that.
"As you can see anything can happen and it happens really, really quickly. The conditions are incredible but nothing is given and I'm not taking that for granted."
Italian Brignone said she was enjoying the conditions.
"I really like the slope, it's great for Olympics," she added.
Shiffrin was the second skier to crash out during the first run after Italy's Marta Bassino, the fifth racer down, wiped out.
Bassino also appeared unhurt from the fall after her skis slid out from under her at the second gate, sending her into a slow slide down the mountain.
"It's for sure sad that she (Shiffrin) goes out in an Olympic Games," said Norway's Maria Therese Tviberg. "But that's our sport and that's also alpine skiing. I bet she also wanted to give it her all. Mistakes happen."
In all, 19 racers failed to finish their first run, while Bosnia's Esma Alic was disqualified and Croatia's Andrea Komsic and Poland's Hanna Zieba did not start. There were no initial reports of any serious injuries.
"It's a really nice slope," Sweden's Hilma Loevblom said. "I just think it's the Olympics and there's a lot of other factors. It can be a lot of pressure and everyone's probably a little bit stressed, coaches as well, and it's just different."
(Reporting by Simon Jennings; additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Peter Rutherford)