Analysis: Plenty went wrong for US Alpine skiing at Olympics

Feb 17, 2022, 9:38 AM | Updated: 11:41 pm
Ryan Cochran-Siegle of the United States reacts after finishing the the men's super-G at the 2022 W...

Ryan Cochran-Siegle of the United States reacts after finishing the the men's super-G at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

BEIJING (AP) — A United States team led by Mikaela Shiffrin is leaving the Beijing Olympics with just one of the 30 individual medals in Alpine skiing. And it’s a silver (from Ryan Cochran-Siegle in the men’s super-G).

The country responsible for Winter Games success stories such as Bode Miller, Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso over the past two decades alone last earned just one ski racing medal at an Olympics in 1998 — and at least that was a gold. So really, you have to go all the way back to 1988, when Americans earned zero Alpine medals, to find a worse showing than 2022.

“We have clear goals and expectations that we build into our program,” head U.S. women’s Alpine coach Paul Kristofic said, “and, of course, when you don’t do that, it’s disappointing.”

There is one last chance for a medal Saturday in the team parallel race, an event added to the Olympics in 2018. Shiffrin is part of the U.S. roster for that, along with Paula Moltzan, AJ Hurt, River Radamus, Tommy Ford and Luke Winters.

So what went wrong for the U.S. this time? A lot, it turns out.

Start with Shiffrin, already one of the most accomplished skiers in history at age 26, with three medals from past Olympics — two golds, one silver — along with six world championship golds, three overall World Cup titles, 73 World Cup race wins (third-most ever) and 47 World Cup slalom victories (a record for any discipline).

She entered all five women’s races in China and this is how they went, in order: giant slalom, Did Not Finish; slalom, Did Not Finish; super-G, ninth; downhill, 18th; combined, Did Not Finish.

“I don’t really understand it, and I’m not sure when I’m going to have much of an explanation,” Shiffrin said Thursday, when she tumbled about 10 seconds into the slalom portion of the combined after being fifth in the downhill. “And I can’t explain to you how frustrated I am to not know what I can learn from the day.”

Put simply: The world’s best skier in recent years produced poor performances over the past 1 1/2 weeks.

Other issues for the United States included the absence of Breezy Johnson, the second-best women’s World Cup downhiller this season, who missed the Olympics after surgery; Ford raced for the first time since getting seriously injured in January 2021; a smaller men’s team of just six racers because of rules changes, so only one American entered the slalom and, for the first time, zero entered the combined.

The best showing by an American woman was Moltzan’s eighth place in slalom.

Aside from Cochran-Siegle’s silver, the only American man to fare better than 12th was Radamus’ fourth place in giant slalom.

Maybe medals, especially golds, aren’t the only measures of Winter Games success. They are, though, what matters most when judging a team.

“It’s the real superstars that have had the medal hauls in recent Olympics,” head U.S. men’s Alpine coach Forest Carey said, “and on the men’s side, anyway, we don’t have those superstars.”

At the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, the American men didn’t earn an Alpine medal, but the women got three.

Other U.S. medal totals this century: five in 2014, eight in 2010, two in 2006, two in 2002.

“It is a bit strange, because usually the Americans are always strong at big events,” Italian skier Alex Vinatzer said. “But at the end of the day, a one-off event is a one-off event, and it’s hard to do well.”

Look at what Switzerland, a nation of fewer than 10 million people, achieved: five golds, an Olympic Alpine record, from Corinne Suter (women’s downhill), Lara Gut-Behrami (women’s super-G), Michelle Gisin (women’s combined), Beat Feuz (men’s downhill), Marco Odermatt (men’s giant slalom). That nation accumulated nine individual medals in the sport.

Austria collected six medals (two golds); Italy four; France and Norway three apiece.

“This Olympics came at a bit of a transition time,” Carey said, pointing to Radamus, who turned 24 last weekend, as an example of up-and-coming talent. “The Olympics are all about medals, but the guys we have competed pretty well. And we have a stronger foundation coming up. It’s just hard to say if any of them are going to be transcendent like Bode or Ted.”


AP Sports Writers Andrew Dampf and Daniella Matar contributed to this report.


Howard Fendrich has covered Alpine skiing for The Associated Press at the last five Winter Olympics. Follow him at or write to him at [email protected]


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during the ...
Associated Press

Ohtani homers, wins to match Ruth as Angels top A’s 5-1

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani withstood another injury scare and pitched six scoreless innings to go with his team-leading 25th home run, reaching yet another monumental milestone as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 on Tuesday night. The two-way Japanese star joined Babe Ruth (1918) as the only players in major […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Serena Williams, of the United States  celebrates a point against compatriot Christina McHal...
Associated Press

Serena Williams’ legacy involves plenty of wins, plenty else

A couple of days before Serena Williams claimed the 22nd of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 2016, she was asked what she makes of it when people refer to her as one of history’s greatest female athletes. Her reply: She prefers being characterized as “one of the greatest athletes of all […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Jonquel Jones’ double-double leads Sun past Sparks 97-71

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonquel Jones had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help the Connecticut Sun ease past the Los Angeles Sparks 97-71 on Tuesday night. Connecticut (23-11) stayed a game behind second-place Las Vegas in the playoff chase. The Sun will stay in Los Angeles for a rematch on Thursday before closing out […]
22 hours ago
Pittsburgh Pirates' Rodolfo Castro reacts after making the last out against the Arizona Diamondback...
Associated Press

Castro loses phone in Pirates’ 6-4 loss to Diamondbacks

PHOENIX (AP) — Pittsburgh infielder Rodolfo Castro lost his phone on the field and the Pirates were stymied by rookie Tommy Henry in a 6-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Henry (1-1) was sharp in his Chase Field debut, allowing a run on four hits in seven innings for his first big […]
22 hours ago
Colorado Rockies' Ryan McMahon follows the flight of his two-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals r...
Associated Press

McMahon, Grichuk tee off, Rockies end Cards’ win streak at 7

DENVER (AP) — Ryan McMahon hit a 495-foot homer for the longest drive by a Colorado player at Coors Field, Randal Grichuk went 5 for 5 and the Rockies routed St. Louis 16-5 Tuesday night, ending the Cardinals’ seven-game winning streak. “It felt really good,” McMahon said. “After you hit it you don’t have very […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Plum scored 18 of her 22 points in 2nd half, Aces beat Dream

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kelsey Plum scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half, A’ja Wilson had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and the Las Vegas Aces held off the Atlanta Dream 97-90 on Tuesday night. Las Vegas (24-10) pulled within one game of first-place Chicago with two games to play, including hosting […]
22 hours ago
Analysis: Plenty went wrong for US Alpine skiing at Olympics