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Shiffrin vows to rebound after 'epic Olympic under-performance'
Mikaela Shiffrin arrived at the Beijing Games as one of the most recognisable and decorated figures in wintersports, at the peak of a career in which she has dominated the World Cup.
But the American will return home from China with nothing to show from what she dubbed an "epic under-performance".
The 26-year-old failed to add to the two Olympic golds she won in the 2014 and 2018 Games in Sochi and Pyeongchang.
Not only did Shiffrin fail to even finish the slalom, giant slalom and alpine combined -- three events in which she had been a keen favourite -- she did not get close to the podium in either the super-G or downhill either.
Her failure to medal in those events, Shiffrin said, had left her feeling “like a joke”, especially after what she said had been a good run-in to the Games.
Redemption came in part from a fourth-placed finish with the US quartet in the programme-ending mixed team parallel event on Sunday.
Shiffrin insisted that her experience at the Beijing Games had given her a learning curve on how to stay positive, notably in the face of criticism, and bounce back from accumulated setbacks.
"Every single person on earth goes through some kind of hardship and you just need to get up," she said.
"It's the most important takeaway from the last couple of weeks for me and it has nothing to do with the Olympics.
"I'm just grateful that this last couple of weeks has given me a platform to actually say it and maybe even learn something about it."
Shiffrin acknowledged that some of the criticism -- both online and in the media -- she had received had been overwhelming.
"In the grand scheme of things, I don't always receive a ton of hate,” she said.
"But there are moments when it's so strong and people can be so mean that you don't want to get out of bed, you don't even want to exist anymore.”
She added: “I don't want to talk to them. I hope I never meet them face to face, and I'm sure if I did they wouldn't say what they say and type online.”
The Olympics, she continued, were "100 percent focused on the competitions and the skiing", but had also been three weeks of her life.
"And there's never been a period of time in three weeks of my life where I haven't felt some sort of disappointment, regret, hope, optimism, pessimism, triumph, failure. That's life."
Shiffrin, who will only be 30 by the time of the next Games, said her skiing career remained a voyage of discovery.
"I think I know less about myself than I did three weeks ago. The older I get, the less I know," she said.
"You think you know something, then you go a little farther in life and you're like, 'Nope, that theory was wrong, let's try another'."