Winter Olympics 2018: Mikaela Shiffrin won't race in women's downhill event

BC-OLY--SKI-Shiffrin's New Focus

Pyeongchang: Mikaela Shiffrin admitted it was "not ideal" but expressed relief at her decision to skip Wednesday's downhill to focus on winning a second Pyeongchang gold in the alpine combined event 24 hours later.

It also will mark the first head-to-head Olympics race between Shiffrin and US teammate Lindsey Vonn, who is 33 and has said this will be her last Winter Games.

Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader, planned to compete in the downhill as she worked to become an all-around medal threat, not simply a specialist in the technical events. It was the first time in 78 years of Olympic Alpine skiing there were double gold medals. But last month, Vonn showed she is far from finished.

The Alpine skiing team event will include 16 teams who are eliminated in knockout rounds before they reach one last round to win gold. "I stand by my values, I'm not going to back down", the 33-year-old American told reporters as she prepared for the women's downhill race on February 21 at PyeongChang 2018. Team USA's Elana Myers Taylor won the silver medal in Sochi, and is looking to upgrade to the gold in PyeongChang.

Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, who had only once finished as high as seventh place in 19 career World Cup races, came out of nowhere to beat Vonn and others and win the super-G on Saturday.

Before the Games, she discussed trying to medal in five events.

American figure skater Bradie Tennell fell during the opening combination in her short program at the Pyeongchang Olympics, such a rare mistake that not even she can remember the last time she made it.

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This bodes well for Johnson's downhill race Tuesday as her recent finishes make it clear that she is one of the world's best speed skiers.

She also enjoys engaging in mental gamesmanship. She took American skier Mikaela Shiffrin's spot after Shiffrin begged off from a third straight day of racing, having completed slalom and giant slalom the days before.

Vonn has undergone two serious knee operations and it was just before the second surgery in 2014 that she adopted her first dog, Leo, from an animal shelter. So it was disappointing when she stumbled during her super-g run and lost her shot at a medal.

"I haven't seen the video of anyone - I know what I can do, I am going to trust myself", she said.

While Vonn is the first to admit that she's a "crazy dog lady", she insists, "it's better than a insane cat lady".

Turning to her optimal bib number, Vonn said she would wait until she saw which number Italian rival and close friend Sofia Goggia chose.

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