YANQING, Feb 20 — American ski star Mikaela Shiffrin will leave the Beijing Olympics without a medal, but Johannes Strolz won his third as Austria beat Germany in the mixed team parallel final today.
Strolz, winner of the men’s alpine combined and silver medallist in the slalom, was part of a winning Austrian quartet that also included Katharina Liensberger, Katharina Truppe and Stefan Brennsteiner.
It caps a remarkable comeback for Strolz, who went back to traffic police duties and even trained with the German team after a string of poor results on the World Cup circuit saw him axed from the Austrian team.
The team event had been the last opportunity for two-time Olympic gold medallist Shiffrin to win a medal in Beijing after she misfired in the individual events over two weeks in Yanqing, skiing out of three races and finishing out of the medals in two others.
But it was not to be for one of winter sports’ most recognisable figures as her US team were beaten to bronze by Norway.
Her performances in the individual events, Shiffrin said, had left her feeling “like a joke”. The programme-ending team event, delayed by a day because of high winds, had offered a last crumb of potential comfort.
In the opening 3-1 victory over Slovakia, Shiffrin outskied Rebeka Jancova to help set up a quarter-final against a strong Italian team on the windswept “Rainbow” course.
Although she was edged by Marta Bassino in the quarters, the Americans advanced 3-1 to set up a semi-final against the Germans -– surprise winners over Switzerland — on the back of solid skiing from Paula Moltzan, Tommy Ford and River Radamus.
Shiffrin was first up in the last-four clash, but was pipped by Lena Duerr, the team going on to lose 3-1 to Germany.
Shiffrin was drawn third in the bronze-medal play-off with Norway, but was well beaten by Thea Louise Stjernesund.
That left Radamus with an enormous task of not only beating Timon Haugan in the final race, but posting a winning time of 23.62 seconds.
The win was secured, but not in that time, leaving Shiffrin and her team’s medal hopes in shreds, one place off the podium.
Austria had a bye through to the quarters, with 15 teams competing. Strolz skied out in his team’s 3-1 win over Slovenia, who had seen Canada off in their opener.
A fancied France team featuring veterans Alexis Pinturault and Tessa Worley saw off the Czech quartet but crashed out in the quarters by just two-hundredths of a second to Norway after Mathieu Faivre, a bronze medallist in the individual giant slalom, came in second to Fabian Wilkens Solheim in the fourth rubber.
Solheim then saw off Strolz in the semi-final, but it was too little too late as Austria advanced on time difference from the Norwegians to set up a final against their German neighbours.
Strolz again suffered defeat in the final, racing in the unfavourable red lane, but his teammates had done enough to sneak past the Germans. — AFP
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism