Beijing— Mikaela Shiffrin’s last chance of winning an individual medal at the Beijing Olympics vanished on Thursday, while Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was aiming for her second title under the cloud of doping.
Shiffrin crashed out of the alpine combined event, meaning she has failed to complete three races and finished out of the medals in two others—an almost unthinkable disappointment for one of the world’s best skiers.
Michelle Gisin of Switzerland went on to win the alpine combined, retaining her title from four years ago.
The 26-year-old Shiffrin had seemed perfectly poised after posting the fifth-fastest downhill time.
But in the slalom, a discipline in which she was Olympic gold medallist in 2014, the American went wide on one turn and could not get back on course.
Shiffrin’s only chance of any kind of medal is now Saturday’s programme-ending mixed team parallel.
“I didn’t make it to the finish again and that’s like 60 percent of my DNF (did not finish) rate from my entire career has happened at this Olympic Games,” she said, describing her performance as “mind-boggling”.
All eyes will now be on 15-year-old Valieva, who is in pole position to win the women’s singles figure skating title.
Despite facing days of intense scrutiny after failing a drugs test, she finished top in Tuesday’s first half of the women’s singles competition ahead of the all-important free skate that starts at 1000 GMT.
For the first time in Olympic history, medals will not be presented if the Russian finishes in the top three.
The teenager tested positive in December for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can boost endurance.
While the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that she could continue to skate in the Olympics, it did not absolve her of doping and the investigation looks set to rumble on well after the action ends in Beijing.
Before that was announced, Valieva played a central role in helping the Russians win skating team gold last week, becoming the first woman to perform a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.
No medal ceremony took place for that event either because of Valieva’s involvement.
IOC president Thomas Bach met on Wednesday with members of the silver medal-winning US team, but the IOC refused to comment on reports he offered the skaters Olympic torches in place of their medals.
The affair has focused attention once more on Russian athletes at Olympic Games.
They are taking part in Beijing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee because Russia as a country is serving a two-year ban as punishment for a state-sponsored doping programme.
In another doping case, Ukrainian cross-country skier Valentyna Kaminska tested positive for an anabolic steroid and two banned stimulants.
Her highest placing in two individual events in Beijing was 70th.
Californian-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, competing for China, has become one of the faces of the Games and the 18-year-old is on track to add to the gold and silver medals she has already won.
The darling of the home crowd set the standard in the halfpipe with a first-run score of 93.75 before bettering it with 95.50 on her second — an impressive six points ahead of second-placed Rachael Karker of Canada.
In the final of the women’s ice hockey, Canada beat rivals the United States 3-2 to avenge a loss in the final four years ago.
Canada raced out to a lead 3-0 in the second period and held on to win, despite being out-shot in the game 40-21, to collect the country’s fifth Olympic gold in the event.
“It’s just so good, it’s a great feeling,” said Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored twice.
“It was one hell of an effort. This is redemption.”
After Thursday’s early action, Norway top the medals table with 13 golds, Germany have 10 and the United States have eight.