‘All I see is a top athlete doing what a top athlete does’
The network was criticised for focusing its camera on Shiffrin as she sat slumped on the slopes in an iconic image the two-time gold medalist later tweeted out herself.
“My hope for every human is that they find another human who finds a way to love, understand, and heal them in the way @AleksanderKilde has done and continues to for me,” she said in response to an Instagram post.
Her boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, earlier said the pressure put on athletes was “enormous” and called for support for “just normal people” like Shiffrin.
“Most of you probably look at it saying: ‘she has lost it’, ‘she can’t handle the pressure’ or ‘what happened?’…” he wrote.
“Which makes me frustrated, because all I see is a top athlete doing what a top athlete does! It’s a part of the game and it happens.”
Shiffrin gave an emotional interview after the event during NBC’s prime-time coverage, which has been anchored by NBC News’ Craig Melvin in Beijing and Mike Tirico from Stamford, Connecticut.
Holding back tears, she said the result made her “second-guess the last 15 years”.
“Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality,” she said. “And I feel really bad, there’s a lot more going on today than just my little situation but I feel really bad for doing that.”
Soon afterwards, gymnast Simon Biles tweeted heart emojis in support. Biles famously withdrew from Summer Olympic events in Tokyo.
Shiffrin joined the near-universal support of Biles in the media, tweeting to her to “keep whipping out that smile”.
Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn repeated that sentiment to Shiffrin on Twitter, saying: “This does not take away from her storied career and what she can and will accomplish going forward. Keep your head high”.
She admitted to struggling with her father’s death in 2020 before crashing out of the giant slalom trying to defend her Gold medal in the event four years earlier in the Tokyo Winter Olympics.
In 2018, she said the pressure caused her to vomit before finishing fourth in the women’s slalom; a defence of the Gold she won four years before that in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“You have got to be kidding me,” said NBC’s commentators as slid out at the top of her run.
“When you think of past disappointments, in past Olympics, in any sport, this is just hard to believe, it’s going to be way up there on the list of Olympic disappointments that you could ever imagine.”