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American Mikaela Shiffrin finishes fifth in giant slalom in Olympic debut

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin approaches a gate in the first run of the women's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia
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United States' Mikaela Shiffrin approaches a gate in the first run of the women's giant slalom …

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Mikaela Shiffrin gave the United States its first glimpse at the future of the women's Alpine program, and it was fairly impressive.

Despite skiing in brutal conditions in the giant slalom on Tuesday, the 18-year-old Shiffrin ended the day in fifth place – respectable for her first-ever Olympic event. The United States ultimately failed to hit the podium in the event, which was pummeled with rain and low visibility from the early going. After Shiffrin put up a solid fifth-place in her first run, Julia Mancuso failed to finish and was done for the day. Americans Resi Stiegler and Megan McJames finished 29th and 30th, respectively.

Slovenia's Tina Maze won her second gold medal of the Sochi Games, finishing with a combined time of 2:36.87. Austria's Anna Fenninger, who won gold in the super-G, took silver and Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg won bronze.

Shiffrin was remarkably composed in the trying environment, holding a tight line for much of the course and seeming unfazed by the big stage.

"I was nervous at the start, but when I was in the gate, I wasn't," Shiffrin said. "I just wanted to ski."

Asked if the rain and slushy spray limited her vision, Shiffrin shrugged it off.

"I didn't really notice it, so I guess not," she said.

As for Mancuso, she lost her rhythm midway through the course, eventually getting off her line and missing a gate after hitting a soft spot that twisted her. She said Tuesday was ultimately her last race of these Games, and she leaves Sochi with her bronze in the super combined.

"I learned especially from the super-G that it's the Olympics and you have to go for it," Mancuso said. "Definitely with the snow surface not being consistent, and you can't really see it, it's hard with timing. I was just losing my timing a few times."

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