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Shiffrin fifth but still talking the talk

Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. clears a gate during the second run of the women's alpine skiing giant slalom event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Ol
Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. clears a gate during the second run of the women's alpine skiing giant slalom event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Ol

By Martyn Herman

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Just as she said, Mikaela Shiffrin had all the answers on Tuesday except where it really mattered, on the snow.

In a swirling storm the much-hyped American teenager could finish only fifth in the giant slalom, her first Olympic race, despite being strongly tipped for a podium place.

Speaking to reporters a few days ago after flying in to Sochi, Alpine skiing's slalom world champion said she had gone through every possible scenario in her mind in the build-up to the Games, including answering questions from journalists.

True to her word, she handled the reporters with ease after finishing outside the medals, explaining that but for a few mistakes she could have won gold.

"Theoretically I could have won the first run and then won the second run, there's so many ways this goes down," the 18-year-old said after finishing behind gold medalist Tina Maze, Anna Fenninger, Viktoria Rebensburg and Nadia Fanchini.

"I felt pretty good for most of the run and just a couple of turns that I scrubbed some skis and wasn't quite as clean.

"I'm thinking gold medal but...I made up some time, at the end of the first run, nine 10ths off, and second run five 10ths off. It boiled down to a couple of turns."

Shiffrin has never won a giant slalom on the World Cup but has dominated the slalom season and tops the standings, so she will be a big favorite for Friday's final women's race.

"I was really thinking that my first GS win would be at the Olympics and that would be such a cool thing to accomplish, but it's just something that I accept," she said.

"I got fifth today and here are four girls who skied better than I did and I'm really excited to analyze their skiing and analyze mine to try and go win (the next World Cup race in) Are.

Asked how her first taste of Olympic competition had been, she said "pretty spectacular".

"It's not sunny, but on the other hand who gets to race their first Olympics in rain this bad when there's still snow on the ground?"

"The visibility was better than I thought it was going to be so I think it was a pretty fair race, and I'm really just in awe of the top three girls and also the fourth because she was ahead of me too."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Robert Woodward)

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