Tearful Mikaela Shiffrin has rare fall in World Cup race (video)

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SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin doesn’t need to look at social media to see what people are saying about her.

After failing to finish two straight races with the Olympics rapidly approaching, the overall World Cup leader knows what her critics are thinking.

Shiffrin fell in the first run of Tuesday’s giant slalom, later won by German Viktoria Rebensburg. Full results here.

“I can see it in my mind, ‘Mikaela Shiffrin faltering before the Olympics.’ And, ‘The streak is coming to an end,'” Shiffrin said Tuesday. “But I’m not really worried about what other people think. That’s a different place that I’m in this year compared to last year.

“I’m not invincible. I’m fighting every single race and you start to hear people say, ‘It’s boring because Mikaela is winning everything.’ Well, it’s not boring today,” Shiffrin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I am in a good place mentally and I don’t feel like today or the race in Cortina (Sunday’s super-G, in which she missed a gate) is a sign. There are logical explanations for why I DNF’d in both races.”

In the GS, Shiffrin lost control of her inside ski coming around a turn as she entered the toughest section of a slope named Erta, which translates as steep.

With a gradient of 61 percent in that section, Shiffrin slid a long way down the course but immediately got up and was not injured.

“These things happen,” said Jeff Lackie, one of Shiffrin’s coaches. “They don’t typically happen with Mikaela because she’s so consistent. But anytime you add speed you have to be that much more diligent about being well balanced over the outside ski.”

It marked the first time in more than six years that Shiffrin failed to finish two consecutive races.

The last time came in back-to-back slaloms in Courchevel, France, and Flachau, Austria, in December 2011 — before the American registered her first World Cup podium.

“Now is a good time if it has to happen,” Lackie said. “I would rather it happen now and give her the opportunity to recalibrate and refocus.”

Shiffrin had been undefeated in 2018 in the technical disciplines of GS, slalom and parallel slalom with five straight wins.

And while she has been dominant in slalom with seven wins in eight races this season, she has only won two of six GS races — with Rebensburg and Brignone also gathering multiple victories.

“There are many strong girls in the GS races,” Rebensburg said “It’s not just (Shiffrin).”

Still, Shiffrin was distraught after her error, retreating immediately to the team hotel without first stopping to review the race with her mother and coach, Eileen Shiffrin, as she usually does.

“I don’t think she should be too disappointed,” Eileen said. “She made a mistake getting on her inside ski. I’m sure she won’t do that again.”

Added Lackie: “You don’t need to drag your face through the mud. She knows what she did wrong. Failure is not fatal. We’ll move on.”

After collecting herself in her hotel room, Shiffrin eventually came down and discussed the race. To lift her spirits, she played with the 5-month-old son of her ski technician, Kim Erlandson, while she spoke.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” Shiffrin said, wiping away a tear or two. “Because out of all the runs that I ski — and I train more than probably anybody — I don’t crash and I don’t DNF. … I place so much emphasis on making every single turn perfect.”

Still, Shiffrin realizes that in the grand scheme of things, these races are not all that important.

While she dropped slightly behind Rebensburg in the giant slalom standings, Shiffrin still holds a massive 843-point lead over the German in the overall standings.

“Today is not the focus. The Olympics is the focus,” Shiffrin said. “But for me today is just a lesson to remember that nobody is invincible.”

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How to watch Closing Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics

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Another Olympics is in the books.

The PyeongChang Closing Ceremony will cap off the 2018 Winter Games Sunday morning, beginning at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT with a live stream of the events.

Jessie Diggins has been named the U.S. flag bearer after an incredibly gutsy performance to take home the country’s first-ever gold medal in Cross-Country.

How, when and where to watch the Closing Ceremony

Stream LIVE on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app: Sunday at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT (Stream here)

The live stream will feature all the sights and sounds of the Closing Ceremony without any commentary.

Watch on TV: Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC (Stream here)

The Olympic figure skating commentating trio of Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon will host the Closing Ceremony on NBC in primetime beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

“It’s a huge honor and privilege,” Lipinski said. “I’m so excited to embark on this new and exciting adventure and bring the Closing Ceremony to the U.S.”

“This is a glorious and unexpected experience that I can’t wait to get fancy for!” Weir said.

Mike Tirico – NBC’s primetime host throughout the PyeongChang Games – hosted the Closing Ceremony for Rio in 2016 alongside Ryan Seacrest and Mary Carillo.

Tirico and Katie Couric hosted the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony in South Korea two weeks ago.

Sunday night’s primetime edition of the Closing Ceremony will also feature simulstreams on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. (Stream here)

Team USA’s historic curling victory, in their own words

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There’s no one word to describe Team USA’s men’s curling victory in the gold medal game Saturday morning.

For a team in a sport that is known for yelling, the victory left John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner speechless.

Watch highlights from Team USA’s 10-7 gold medal win over Sweden

John Shuster:

On the morning of February 19, Matt’s (Hamilton) birthday, the day we played Canada, I woke up saw it and said ‘I have a choice. I have a choice to rewrite my story, to write the story of this team. That we put the work in and I wasn’t going to let any thought in my head or any of that stuff get the in way of the story of this team… they deserve to have the skip who helped them get here and I’m glad I showed up.

Matt Hamilton:

It’s unbelievable, this whole last four years. Just being on the cusp at the world championships. Getting bronze one year, coming fourth and fifth the other two years. We knew we were close, and to make the breakthrough here at the Olympics is just amazing.

Tyler George:

It’s too surreal to even think about right now… I think it’s going to hit harder tomorrow but I keep waiting to wake up. I’ve not been emotional because it’s just shock. To go from where we were a few days ago… the emotions, they’re bottled up and they’re building but it’s going to be a little bit before they come out.

NBCOlympics.com: PyeongChang a much different Olympics for Shuster, Team USA

John Landsteiner:

For me and John [Shuster]… This time around we were able to show them what we’re capable of and we’re really proud of that… And this team, I’m just proud of what we have all done. We’ve put in so much work together the last four years and we’ve been able to peak at the right time obviously. So I can’t imagine it means any more than the world to any of us.