Tricia Mangan reacts following her run during the Women's Alpine Combined Downhill at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 17, 2022 in Yanqing, China.
BEIJING — Tricia Mangan did not come into this season with her eye on competing at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The 24-year-old from Buffalo, New York, had just decided to refocus on skiing after graduating from Dartmouth College in June 2021 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Racing independently with the International Ski Racing Academy team, Mangan’s goal was just “to give it everything I have and to progress every race.”
With a light snow falling at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre, Mangan gave her all in slalom after finishing 20th in the morning downhill run. Her slalom run tied for the eighth fastest and moved up her up to 11th overall in the combined — the top U.S. finisher. Mikaela Shiffrin, Keely Cashman, and Bella Wright all struggled with the slalom and DNFed (ski-racing jargon for did not finish).
“I definitely tried my best, wasn't the prettiest skiing,” said Mangan, smiling at the end. “But I tried my best, so I'm proud of that.”
After Shiffrin fell on her hip 12 gates into the combined slalom, the pressure to make the podium fell to Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener. Gisin was the reigning Olympic combined champion, and Holdener is the reigning combined world champion. The two women were separated by only 0.01 of a second after the combined downhill in the morning.
Gisin skied the slalom 0.06 of a second faster than Holdener and won her second Olympic gold medal. Holdener — the 2018 Olympic combined bronze medalist — stood one step higher on the podium this time with silver. And Italy’s Federica Brignone won the bronze. All three women have now won two medals apiece at these Olympic Games, with one event left — the alpine team race on Saturday.
In what could be the final Olympic run of the historic combined (it was the first and only event when alpine skiing debuted at the 1936 Olympic Winter Games), many women struggled in the slalom course — including Shiffrin, who was unsure what happened and said she was not feeling too much pressure. Team USA’s Keely Cashman and Bella Wright also DNFed in the slalom.
But not Mangan, who came into these Games as an underdog — a mentality that she actually liked. She had been on the Olympic stage before, back in 2018, but taken time off and is building back.