JASNA, Slovakia – Mikaela Shiffrin slammed Slovakian race organizers after a women’s World Cup giant slalom Sunday, calling them “unprofessional” for making her wait in the start gate before her final run for what she felt was too long.

Holding a slim lead from the opening leg, Shiffrin was ready to start when she had to wait for two minutes while course workers replaced a broken gate.

Finally allowed to go, the American posted only the 11th-fastest time and dropped to third, 0.37 behind the winner, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia.

“It took (two) minutes to fix a gate, that should take 30 seconds,” Shiffrin said. “I just felt like she is a good enough skier to win these races on her own and doesn’t need this unprofessional act from something that she doesn’t have control over, I don’t have control over, but just to say, ‘Oh, she is in the lead, let’s see if we can do something to get into (Shiffrin’s) head.'”

While Shiffrin acknowledged interruptions are a common part of the sport, she said the lengthy delay was not necessary this time.

“It’s one thing if an athlete falls and gets injured, but it’s another thing when it’s fixing a gate and that takes (two) minutes with two people and they can’t find the flag, or I don’t know what was happening,” the American said.

“It was a bit ridiculous and that’s really obvious,” she added. “This not a professional way to handle this situation (…) takes away from her performance, too. She can be proud of how she skied but that’s a tough situation.”

Shiffrin also acknowledged that she should “handle these situation better” after her delayed start got to her.

“I was OK, I was just getting mad, that’s something that I can learn from,” she said. “I still did a pretty good job on most of my run but just not quite good enough.”

72 COMMENTS

  1. In the postrace interview for ORF Shiffrin did not say 2 minutes she was talking that changing the gate took 5 to 8 minutes. It actually took 2:30 and it was the same delay as before for Vlhova. Hardly decisive.

    • Yep, sour grapes. Things like this happen and to try to put the blame on Vlhova, no matter how indirectly, is really undeserved cheap shot. Mikaela should know better!

    • Agreed. Time when one is under pressure can stretch out and make it seem longer than the actual clock. In all her years this is Miki’s first sour grapes mis-step so I am giving her a “mulligan”. She’s a quick study with attractive humility that is rare for an athlete of such exceptional caliber. Given all the cameras and interviews sooner or later she was bound to step in it. Learn, move on an up.

      • Details: O’Brien was DNF, adding a thirty second delay for Gasienica-Daniel’s start. She crashed at the bottom and had to be helped out of the finish area which meant Vlhova’s start was delayed by two minutes. Vlhova bent a pole near the bottom and fixing that delayed Shiffrin’s start by more than two and a half minutes. So Shiffrin was mentally prepared to start six minutes after O’Brian, but the three delays changed that to over eleven minutes, five minutes behind her expected start time. I think it’s fair to question whether the extra two and a half minutes to replace one pole was justified. And I can definitely see how the three delays, one after the other, could add significantly to the stress at that critical moment, and add as well to the frustration at the bottom. To those who tell us how Mikaela should have handled all of it I would say, they will never really know. None of them, or any of the rest of us, are likely to ever understand what it takes to actually be the best skier in the world.
        And no, Shiffrin’s delay was not “the same” as Vlhova’s (see above).

        • Tou are full of you know what. Delays are common happening and as an experienced pro she should understand that and lookinking for excuses. How long were you mentally preparing for your rant? You know about ski races very little.

    • Here is the statement of the official FIS Technical Delegate (TD) for the race. My apologies for any mistakes in translations:
      “The split pole just before the finish, around which passed Vlhova, was repaired before Shiffrin start by pulling the flag on the original split pole. This repair was done by Croatian technician. The change of the pole was decided by the Polish TD responsible for this section of the track. This was communicated and decided by a radio by the Italian FIS Women World Cup Director. The starts man (Slovak) was instructed by the FIS Women WC Director, that the race is interrupted to allow replacement of the split pole due to safety reason”.

      “Unfortunately Shiffrin have to wait at that moment until she got instruction to be allowed to start, which is for concentrated competitor always unpleasant but not unusual. Due to this reason the extra time is given to a competitor to be able prepare herself and concentrate”.

      From this statement appears there was no involvement and any intentional malice from the race organisers and the decisions was due to FIS delegates.

    • For the 2nd half of the 2nd GS run I agree. The first half looked pretty good to me. After the 1st run of the slalom race, Mikaela said that she thought she skied like she had something to protect, and that she didn’t. I disagreed with her, because she has a chance to get the slalom globe. But her in first run in the GS I really thought she did ski like she didn’t have anything to protect, because she doesn’t have a shot at the overall or GS Globes. I thought she was amazing in the 1st run. But the last half of the 2nd run, yeah, she started skiing like she was worried about making mistakes. It was disappointing. I wasn’t all that worried about where she finished in the GS, I just wanted her to be on the podium so she didn’t lose the confidence that’s returning.

  2. Love what Shiffrin has done for awareness to the sport in the US, but from those comments it sounds like she was in her own head before the run. For a world champ to be put off by a delay and then to say it’s because of the home course advantage sounds like sour grapes. Is that really how petty this sport has become? Does she have a legitimate gripe? Would love to hear from someone who was there.

    • Please don’t judge the whole sport on Mikaela’s comments. If a lot of people are making those kinds of comments, I’ve never seen them. I think Mikaela was interviewed before she had a chance to cool down and unwind, because this is unusual for her. I did notice, though, that when Wendy Holdener skied the 2nd run, the last gate was missing its flag. Why hadn’t they taken time to fix that?

  3. Good athlete has to know how to accept the lose. Lying about 5-8 minutes delay caused by organizers, which was 2 minutes in reality, and accusing the others for her failure is not a sign of high morale and fair play. Sorry

    • To be fair, it probably felt like 8 minutes standing there in the gate…. psychology is such a big part of the sport. This controversy reminds me of the incident not so long ago when Vlhova’s coach sent someone to “spy” on Shiffrin’s training process. It upset Shiffrin, which may well have been what it was designed to do. There is no way for us to really know if anyone is actually playing dirty tricks, but it wouldn’t be the first time if that was part of what happened today. No one likes being cheated.
      And why does Vlhova seem grumpy most of the time?

      • maybe that is why americans made germans to train together in order to stop Petra to train with germans….now tell me more about “Schiffrin victim”…dirt moves by americans and stupid scusations on track technicians that were not slovaks in that sector

    • Martin, MS is a very modest person. She has never complained when she lost a race and always found the culprit in her mistakes.Even now she said Petra was such a good skier that she didn’t need any extra help from the people fixing the gates. In my opinion, and not only in my opinion, she is probably the best skier in the history of this sport, and if a family tragedy had not happened to her last year, she would surely have won the World Cup last year and this year.So Martine, accusing her of not being a fair athlete is a really ugly and inaccurate accusation.And for the end to know that I am from Serbia and not from USA.

  4. She got iced. No excuse for what appeared to be deliberate bumbling. The course stewards can be seen entering the course immediately after a skier passes.

    • I think it was done deliberately. Shiffrin said that she has to handle it better but it never should have happened in the first place.

    • Unless you can point to instances of Michaela’s performance being susceptible to time delays in the past, much less intentional ones, or that this tactic has somehow been implemented by host areas under FIS’s nose all these years, I respectfully but firmly disagree. “Appeared to be” is simply not enough to make a public accusation of this kind. Most athletes who make the “champion” grade (Mikaela has, IMO) got there precisely because they choose to turn anomalies such as a start delay or God forbid mean teammates or an unkind glance into an absolute positive. We can assume that winning a lot of World Cup races by definition puts one in the 99th percentile of “unflappable.” But, we’re all human and most of us in moments of weakness assume ill-intent in others from time to time even when it isn’t in reality there. Giving voice to those suspicions publicly however, when you’re already in the spotlight, are likely one of the greatest if not the greatest ski racers of all time, and just happened to drop from first to third moments beforehand is bound to generate significant PR blowback without some sort of concrete evidence to back it up. I remain a forever supporter of Mikaela the person but a little less so of the brand.

  5. Point a camera at me or stick a microphone in my face and see how long it takes before I say or do something that displays less than perfect equanimity, and I ain’t competing for the world’s best anything.

  6. Mikaela`s opinion is certainly plausible. Everyone involved in sports knows and uses the “ice em” trick. In skiing the mental preparation at the starting gate is crucial, so “ice em” is an effective tactic. And, coincidentally, this problem with the start gate happens at Petras home hill, JASNA. And coincidentally, when the two are almost tied, and at the moment that Mikaela was ready to start. Coincidentally, a lot is at stake, like the overall title. What about a gambling angle? Big Stakes. So, yes, it is very plausible.

  7. I bet that she (and her coaches) knew what the slovakia race organizers were trying to do and she called them out on it. Good for her!

  8. What were u there? No! Did she know what was a problem? No! Every organizer have to make sure that race will be safe. Good Job Petra love you love Jasna and good race to all of them. End of the day it is race one will win other one lose. It is easy to blame others

    • That’s a good question, but I wouldn’t assume that she didn’t know what the problem was, because they would have been told. Another thing that’s interesting is that when Wendy Holdener skied the second half of the GS, the very last flag didn’t have a flag in it at all. It was just the poles. So why didn’t they feel they needed to fix that for safety purposes? I’ve been an avid fan of Alpine ski racing and Mikaela especially, for about three years, and I’ve never seen her act like this. She’s already said she could have handled this better, and that her response is something to learn from.

      • Missing flag (i didn’t notice that) is something different than a broken leg that holds a flag…. This is not about home site trying to do something, JURY of the race is international… So im surprised and kinda dissapointed from Mikaela’s reaction….

        • Mikaela has been a good sport for 9 years. Always. That’s why I believe she knew what was happening to her and why she called the organizers out.

          • Has anybody already realized that “repair” neither “need for repair” was NOT handled by Sovak organizers but FIS representatives from other nations? Once you understand that than you will have clear picture … maybe its time for apologies

    • Were you there also? No! Did she know what the problem was? Probably! They probably told her because it took so long. It wasn’t 30 seconds, but 2 1/2 minutes. Mikaela certainly knew after the race what happened by her coaches. FIS has to review what happened and decide whether to penalize Jasna as a site. Everyone has to compete equally.

      • Are you compeletely out of ur mind?
        The jury of the race is international. I’ll repeat it for you american small brain. International. So anyone who wanted give Petra a “favor” isn’t from Slovakia, therefore it has nothing to do with the organizers. Next time get your facts right…

        • You obviously are mentally deranged. BTW I’m not american either. There jury of the race doesn’t have any thing to do with it. Before you put your foot up your arsch, the course workers are from fis and volunteers from the home site. Next time get YOUR facts straight.

          • FYI: “FIS technical delegate for this race – Bohumir Zeman (Czech Republic) just confirmed gate was replaced by delegate from Croatia, based on decision made by delegate from Poland. Nobody from Slovakia was involved in decision or process of gate replacing !”

  9. Disappointing un-Mikaela-like comment. Whether the delay was intentional or not, her words only reflect poorly on her. Especially since Vlhova has also iced. I have the utmost respect for Mikaela and I’m sure after some reflection she realize her mistake.

  10. I think that the organizers did it for purpose. They change a flag about 3 minutes what is hardley anusual in this situation. But i also think that can be a esxuse for Shiffrin for her bad second run. The skier of her experience shouldnt alow that what happened affects her.

    • Was it 3 minutes? Mikaela said 15, than 8…so what was it?
      She said it had to take 30 seconds…is she stupid? Would like to see her running on that hill, on slippery snow, repairing and running back it in 30 seconds…
      …Petra had to wait same amount of time before she started…
      …stop crying, its ridiculous

      • After what happened in Jasna, I doubt that FIS will give them the opportunity to organize a competition within the World Cup in the near future. Sorry LH ,and i am from Serbia not USA.

    • Nik, please … you had a time to investigate more details not like Mikaela … those were not organizers who decided to change the flag. It was handled by the FIS representatives NOT organizers. Those were from other nations, not from Slovakia … so don’t be so arrogant and try to be fair if you are able to …

  11. why are y’all making such a fuss over that one comment. yeah. she was mad. it was fresh. she exaggerated. she’s not perfect. nobody is. get over it.

  12. Oh come on……….anyone who has ski raced whether in a local club race or a World Cup gets held up in the start due to a broken gate, another racer crashes, or the slip crew is coming through. How many times has the opposing team called a time out right when QB Aaron Rogers is under center and about to execute a crucial 3rd down play on the 5 yard line. That’s what sports is all about.

  13. Disappointing 2nd run, was too casual. Really hope she could sweep the Slovakia races.

    But if the best ski racer in the world who has won 69 races thought it should only take 30 seconds to fix the gate, then the fact that it took 5 times longer showed that the course workers have been really slow. Might not have been a dirty job, but still showed the incompetence of the local course workers.

    • She thought they were fixing the flag, when in fact they were fixing a broken leg. Now i dont know EXACTLY how much time this takes, but much longer than just fixing a flag. It was a poor communication from her, but i get that she was angry. She should have get the facts straight before second interview. The organizers did not deserve such words but neither does she deserve such hate for an emotional statement that she she apoloziged about.

  14. Funny I was watching them fix the gate, play with the flag, someone else walking up, and wondered if the local “team” was trying to ice her.

    Yeah, you’re a professional athlete and it’s your job to deal with this stuff but think that MS has earned the right to speak her mind through both her skiing and her professional comportment over the years. She’s not a complainer. Icing the kicker with a time-out is an accepted strategy in football. In this case, lollygagging to help Petra was unprofessional.

  15. 1. We’re in Slovakia friends…we’re not in the ski racing capitol of Austria or Switzerland…we are in the backwater European ski resort of wait for it…Jasna..these Slovakian guys don’t put on WC races on a regular basis and the organizers and course crew are probably second rate in the grand scheme of things.

    2. Shiffrin (and probably a lot of the other girls in the WC circuit) don’t like Vlhova. She is pouty and wants to win the overall more than anything and to me it looks like the other girls don’t like her. She comes off as rude and very undiplomatic.

    3. Shiffrin especially really does not like Vlhova who tries to copy everything Shiffrin does, follows her around and tries to copy her skiing in so much that she sends her coaches (an unscrupulous Italian no less who used to be Tina Maze’s coach) to film Shiffrin and that really pisses Shiffrin off.

    4. Vlhova did blow that red gate up completely…she broke the gate in half. I don’t think a simple panel change was in order on this and that gate needed to be replaced. Not sure how long a gate change + panel change should take and I’m not sure what the total time it was to do the full change out…so, not sure if they were slow rolling the deal or not. It looked to me like they were confused on whether to just thread the panel back onto the broken gate or to do a full gate change. Maybe that is incompetance or maybe a replacement gate was not readily available…I’m not sure and we don’t get a lot of camera evidence as to the supposed incompetence..but, I’m sure Shiffrin has her people that were on scene telling her what was going on and they know a heck of a lot more about ski racing then any of us…so I would lean into what her camp was telling her that the Jasna race crew were deliberate bunglers..

    • I’m sorry but your post sound really xenophobic and full of “western” attitude and feeling of “superiority”

    • Oh no, we’re in Slovakia. In a backwater ski resort. Do they even have electricity there? Surely everyone who worked on organizing the event must be completely clueless and incompetent, afterall, we’re in Jasna, Slovakia… You my friend are a… wait for it… chauvinistic, xenophobic moron.

      • You probably think Bansko did a great job with the men’s speed races race they held there a few years back as well…

    • You are full of you know what. Delays are common happening and as an experienced pro she should understand that and lookinking for excuses. How long were you mentally preparing for your rant? You know about ski races very little.

    • You are not even sure where is Slovakia, where is Jasna. You have never been there and probably you have never been anywhere. You are not sure about any facts as to what wnt on, but you feel qualified enough to judge everything and everybody. You must be a real genius. How come you are not famous? You must be professor. They too have not idea how to do IT, so they teach IT.

  16. Maybe a replacement gate was not readily available??

    Let’s put it this way. Zero chance they get Petra in the start and take that long deciding what to do about a broken gate.

    Mikaela has no history of blaming others or situational factors. She is her own worst critic when she feels like she isn’t skiing well. This was just nonsense trying to favor Petra.

    • …what is time limit to fix the gate? 01:00 or 01:12…are you completly out of mind?
      She fuc*ed up…and she blames all others around

  17. When she is winning, ske is a greatest champion, but when she don’t win, she is making the conspiracy theory. I watched that live and after viewing the video again she should apologize to organizers. Why US team and/or Michaela didn’t protest ( give official protest ) to FIS? Because it is a fake story!

    • Martin, Name other times that Mikaela has ever blamed anyone but herself when she didn’t win over the last nine years. Regardless of if you think the delay was intentional or not, your comment is just objectively false. Are you a bot?

      • And what is false in my comment? Was the delay 5-8 minutes like Micheala told to TV or not? Did you see it or just accepted what she said even if it is not right?
        BTW: the course workers from that sectors was not slovakian but from croatia and poland. What should be their intentions to do that for purpose? Ridiculous conspiracy.

  18. Regardless of the outcome of the race, it’s amatuer hour in Jasna, or deliberate, unprofessional behaviour. Even the commentators on Eurosport noted their bumbling delay. MS is not outspoken, and her own biggest critic. If she speaks up then you take notice. Those that think a 2-3 minute delay isn’t magnified in the start gate, and does not impact a racer under pressure have no eyed deer, or just being antagonistic. Jasna will only ever be remembered for this debacle, which is a shame.

  19. First of all I think we should start referring to this as “gate gate”.
    There is no excuse for an excessive delay in this situation. It is during these last racers that organizers and course maintenance must be surgical and they know that because it comes down to hundies. In a sport with so many variables they are responsible for not adding to the pile, especially when the possible one true GOAT is standing in the starting gate. I think Shiffrin remained remarkably reserved with her comments in a situation where a race’s local course crew didn’t respect her as a competitor. I hope Mike Day threw a Fit, if I were her coach I would be kicking dirt on home plate for her.

  20. Lost in all this is just how good Alice Robinson’s second run was. She jumped five places with the fastest second run (Siebenhofer jumped eight placed with the second fastest that was still .48 sec slower than Alice.)

  21. Mikaela Shiffrin is a great athlete, an amazing ski racer. She comes off as a kind, humble and gracious person. I understand the rivalry between her and Vlhova. That Shiffrin was upset and more than implied that the “gatekeepers” purposely prolonged the repairs to the damaged gate
    can easily be construed as “sour grapes”. Perhaps there are some sour grapes in her comments. But what she says is also very believable. It would be a shame if Alpine ski racing becomes tainted by race organizers, course keepers , coaches and others with no scruples whomanipulate conditions to favor certain outcomes. To me, consistently winning and consistently making podium finishes are the hallmarks of a great racer. In tennis that is what have made Federer, Nadal and Djokovic the great champions that they are. Shiffrin, Gut-Bahrami and Vlhova carry this mantle in the Alpine ski racing world. That does not make them “entitled” however. The next race is the next challenge, the cream always rises to the top.
    I believe Mikaela has matured enough and will learn from this unfortunate situation, put it behind her and go on to win countless more races in all the Alpine disciplines.

  22. It seems like people have strong views based on whether they are Shiffrin or Vlhova fans, American, Slovak, anti-American, anti-Slovak etc. There are terrible things being written because, well, it’s the internet.

    A few people have just tried looking at the facts. Ski journalist Erik Willemsen has a good breakdown of the timing on twitter. Slovak skier Zampa said there was a 90 second delay (which doesn’t match Willemsen’s breakdown of the timing) before race officials noticed the needed repair which is unacceptable for a world cup race; but he didn’t think it was intentional and thought race organizers did a good job in general. Other people saying course workers were celebrating Vlhova’s run as she was born 20 minutes away and thus they were slow. Race organizers defended themselves in local press and said it was the same length of delay for Shiffrin and Vlhova.

    From all of this, I do think there was excesssive delay. It is very unusual to get someone in the gate ready to go- especially in the top seeds for the second run- and have this kind of delay for a gate repair/replacement. It is normally very fast. The question is: was it intentional? No one will know. Personally I don’t think it was but I do think it was unprofessional and probably if it were Vlhova they would have hustled more.

    Vlhova is a great champion and she clearly had nothing to do with the delay. Shiffrin is a great champion and I can’t remember her ever making a complaint like this in her career so she deserves some benefit of the doubt.

  23. The AP headline reads”Vlhova wins home GS race,turns tables on Shiffren”No,no tables were turned.And ,nobody was”Iced”.I feel Mikaela felt something,half way down,we all saw it,a right booted turn and she lost grip,she can’t explain it,that feeling.She pulled up,stood up and skied the next four or so gates very carefully,yes,at the bottom she somewhat hit the gas,I think and feel she let Petra have it.I watched this GS,then went back and watched the Slalom from the day before,during the break,Mikaela did an interview.I feel that interview explained everything she feels.I’m taking about”Feel” how her skis feel,her boots.
    As soon as the radio chatter came up to Mikaela,her serviceman and her handlers that the course was closed,to fix a gate that Petra had sawed off,they pulled her back in.Was the race fixed?No,she regrouped and took off.She was hauling!Then her error,right then she showed good sportsmanship,sportswomanship,She pulled up and got on the podium.No big deal,no fix,Petra was very stoked.Her home country,her home hill perhaps.Good for Petra,Good job,Mikaela!

  24. With a “moving on” mentality, perhaps a few calls could set her up with a professional field goal kicker from the NFL. They have an amazing ability to stay focused and to refocus for the task at hand after being “iced” by the competition calling (a legal) time out before they can kick a a big field goal. There may be something to learn there!

    Best to Mikaela for the rest of the season and beyond! And Good Luck to all of the US Ladies!!!!

  25. With a “moving on” mentality, perhaps a few calls could set her up with a professional field goal kicker from the NFL. They have an amazing ability to stay focused and to refocus for the task at hand after being “iced” by the competition calling (a legal) time out before they can kick a big field goal. There may be something to learn there!

    Best to Mikaela for the rest of the season and beyond! And Good Luck to all of the US Ladies!!!!

  26. FIS technical delegate for this race – Bohumir Zeman (Czech Republic) just confirmed gate was replaced by delegate from Croatia, based on decision made by delegate from Poland. Nobody from Slovakia was involved in decision or process of gate replacing ! Looks like whole East Europe is against Mikaela ! Ridiculous !
    I was a big fan of Mikaela. Until Sunday ….
    Sorry Mikki, but it is just excuse for your worse result in second run … But this is sport ! To me you are still brightest star !
    Mikaela, Petra – good luck for the end of the season ! We love you both !

  27. She has admittedly always had a problem with nerves. In a race that tight, who knows. Maybe 30 seconds would have derailed her. I’m sure she’s regretting her comments. We’ve all said thins we wish we could take back. She did look to be easing up at the end. Almost like she was letting Petra win for her home country….but as fierce as those two are, there is no way that was the case. Shiff is arguably the GOAT, we all love her and love to see her win, but I was happy for vhlova.

  28. Did anyone actually watch the race?. It wasn’t a flag missing that was the issue. It was a pole completely taken out. Im sorry Mikaela. Or Petra. Or Whoever. I thought they did a heck of a job getting the show going that quick. Now that Mikaela has seen tape . It’s time to apologize to the organizers and Petra. Lindsey always said she was about self and not a team player. How embarrassing for this great Champion. Next stop? Signs and protesting? Mikey Out. Oooohhhh Yeah!!!!!!

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