Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin faced off for the first, and last, time in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Thursday morning and afternoon (Wednesday night and Thursday morning stateside) in the women’s alpine skiing combined, a set of two races in which the fastest total time determines the winner.
Shiffrin earned silver, behind Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin. Vonn, who came on strong in the first of the two races, missed a gate in the second and did not finish.
“I hooked a tip which often happens,” she told reporters afterward. “I did that in the combined in the Olympics in Vancouver. So, that’s skiing.”
The competition pitted the Team USA members against one another and more than two dozen other racers in two runs featuring both of their individual strengths: downhill (Vonn’s specialty) and slalom (where Shiffrin excels).
“Slalom is tough for me,” Vonn said after failing to finish. “I fought really hard, but straddling is, unfortunately, something I do often, which is why I don’t ski the event anymore.”
Vonn competed on back-to-back days, having nabbed a bronze medal on Wednesday morning in the women’s downhill. Shiffrin won gold in the giant slalom last week during her 2018 Olympic debut.
Shiffrin was the 19th skier to go down the hill and ended the run 1.98 seconds behind Vonn after looking shaky coming out of the first traverse. She then placed third in the slalom, helping lift her to second overall.
“It feels good. It’s a nice way to end the Olympics,” she told reporters. “I started off with a bang and ending with a medal on the podium is really cool.”
The combined served as both a competition and a passing of the torch. The 33-year-old Vonn, long considered the greatest female ski racer of all time, and the most decorated, has said the PyeongChang Olympics are likely her last, while 22-year-old Shiffrin is still early in her career but is already on a trajectory to potentially surpass Vonn’s 81 World Cup wins.