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Mikaela Shiffrin Goes For Historic Medal In Slalom At Winter Olympics

Mikaela Shiffrin was in fourth place after her first run in the women's slalom at Yongpyong Alpine Center, in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

She's already tied two other Americans by winning two gold medals in Alpine skiing – now Mikaela Shiffrin is trying to win a third gold and stamp her name in the record books as the best U.S. Olympic skier of all time.

Shiffrin completed her first run in 49.37 – putting her nearly half a second behind Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, at 48.89. By the time the first 10 skiers had made their way down the course, Shiffrin had fallen to fourth place.

"It was OK, a bit conservative," she said of her first run. "I know I have a lot more speed in me." On the second run, she said, "[I'll] just let it go down the hill more in the second run, it will be quite a lot faster."

While saying she's not far from the leader, Shiffrin acknowledged, "I am not super psyched with it."

When asked what she would do to adjust in her second run, Shiffrin replied, "Same thing as yesterday, no holding back. There is not much tactics that goes into it. I just put it all down the hill and see what happens."

The American, 22, also said that she'd thrown up just before starting her first run — telling NBC that it felt more like an illness than nerves.

Standing in the leader's circle at the bottom of the hill, Holdener seemed slightly surprised that she would retain the lead after the first run by the defending gold medalist in this event.

Shiffrin is racing in the slalom one day after winning gold in the giant slalom. Speaking to journalists after her first run, she alluded to the compressed schedule — and the disruption in her nightly routine. Instead of heading to bed around 8 p.m. last night, Shiffrin was standing on a stage in Pyeongchang, receiving her gold medal in the nightly awards ceremony. She got to bed around 10.

It's a well-known ritual for Shiffrin to nap between her runs, even in a big race. She'll try to do that now.

Weather conditions have forced multiple delays and postponements in Shiffrin's race schedule, which was initially crowded with five events. Concerns over the compressed competition slate forced her to scale back her events in South Korea, opting to skip the Super-G race on Saturday. It would have been her third consecutive day of racing for a medal.

The second and final run in the women's slalom will take place at 1:15 p.m. local time on Friday in South Korea – 11:15 p.m. Thursday night in the U.S.

The course laid out for the women's slalom at Yongpyong Alpine Center in Pyeongchang has 61 turning gates, and a vertical drop of around 670 feet.

When Shiffrin won the slalom in Sochi, she became the youngest athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in the event, at age 18. With her gold in giant slalom, she's now one of six women to have won gold in both events.

The gold in giant slalom tied Shiffrin with Andrea Mead-Lawrence and Ted Ligety for the USA record of winning two gold medals in Alpine skiing.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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