YANQING DISTRICT, Beijing: A tearful Mikaela Shiffrin questioned whether she could pick herself up and return to competition at the Winter Olympics after skiing out of the slalom on Wednesday (Feb 9) and failing to finish for the second race in a row.
The 26-year-old American, who has dominated the technical events in recent years, was eliminated after missing an early gate.
She also crashed out on the first run of the giant slalom on Monday after coming into the race as the defending Olympic champion.
Shiffrin sat slumped by the side of the course with her head in her hands after her aborted run, and choked back tears while trying to come to terms with what had happened.
"Yeah. I mean, no," she said in response to a question on whether she would continue to compete at these Olympics. "I will try to reset again. Maybe try to reset better this time.
"But I also don't know how to do it better because ... I just don't. I've never been in this position before and I don't know how to handle it."
The next two races in the women's individual alpine programme are the super-G on Friday followed by the downhill next Tuesday. The individual programme ends with the alpine combined race on Feb 17.
"The hill on the speed track looks pretty incredible and I think it would be a pleasure to ski. But I also have some team-mates who are really fast. And we have the athletes who can fill the spaces," Shiffrin added.
"So if I'm going to ski out on the fifth gate, like what's the point?"
Shiffrin said that her two performances had left her feeling like she had let everybody down.
"It's not the end of the world and it's so stupid to care this much, but I feel like I have to question a lot now," she said. "I feel a lot of disappointment.
"I feel like my performance is a huge letdown. It's a letdown of everything. It's letting down myself, letting down other people."
"A LOT OF WORK FOR NOTHING"
She also lamented the waste of all the effort and preparation she had put in ahead of the Games.
"We came all this way and we're not done yet. GS (giant slalom) and slalom, those were my biggest focuses, so it really feels like a lot of work for nothing," she said.
"They'll try to say, 'This happens, it's okay, don't be too hard on yourself,' but it is a lot of work for a grand total five gates in the GS and five gates in the slalom. That's not lost on me."
Shiffrin's emotions spilled over when she was asked about other tragic moments in her life. The skier lost her father in an accident in 2020, and took a break from skiing in order to come to terms with his death.
"It does give me perspective, but right now I would really like to call him," she said. "So that doesn't make it easier and he would probably tell me to just get over it.
"But he's not here to say that, so on top of everything else, I'm pretty angry at him too.
"At the end of the day you can let it go and say that's not the worst thing that I ever experienced in life. As hard as it is right now, it's not comparable to some of the worst things that I've experienced.
"If the worst thing that happens is this ... that I didn't finish in the Olympics ... that hurts, but in 24 hours, nobody's ... well maybe nobody's ... going to care. Maybe it'll take a little longer, but I don't know. We'll see."