SOCHI, Russia - It poured rain from sun up to sunset in Sochi on Tuesday. It didn't cause the cancellation of any events, but it made things difficult for the athletes and the spectators in the alpine venue.
Ski racing fans wrapped themselves in ponchos and garbage bags. Despite the downpour, the stands were about half full.
It was not the introduction to Olympic racing that Eagle Vail resident Mikaela Shiffrin was expecting.
From the moment the 18-year-old arrived in Sochi, Shiffrin said she would not allow snow conditions to be an excuse for the outcome of a race. Tuesday, it was put to the test in dramatic fashion.
She handled it with maturity, grace, and humor.
"Ninety percent of my turns were the best turns but a few were sloppy. I will clean those up." Shiffrin said. "I wanted a medal in the race, but now I am focused on the slalom."
Shiffrin finished fifth. She was only behind the gold medal winner by a half a second. She missed bronze by about .2 of one second.
"I am drenched." She smiled. "I'm not crying. These are raindrops coming down my face. I am the rainstorm."
"I had to wipe my goggles off twice during the course," her teammate Resi Stiegler said.
Stiegler said she couldn't see.
"I was thinking about trading my ski goggles for dirt bike lenses with peel-offs," Stiegler said.
Julia Mancuso, the most decorated Olympian on the US Women's team missed a gate during the qualifying run and did not make the finals.
"This kind of snow is unforgiving," Mancuso said. "You can't make any mistakes. With the rain it makes it a lot slower and it is a fine line between pushing too hard and riding your skies."
"I felt like I came out strong and fast, but there are a few things I would have done different at the bottom of the course," Shiffrin said. "I wanted a medal in the race, but I feel good."
"I am really proud of her for coming through with a really good result in very wacky conditions for ski racing," Mikaela's dad, Jeff Shiffrin, said. "The top to me in the Olympics means top five."
Shiffrin said that it true for any World Cup race.
"That means you had a good day," Mikaela said.
MIkaela wasn't out of the venue before she was already focused on her next task. Her next Olympic competition in slalom on Friday. Mikaela is the defending World Champion in that discipline.
"I'm really looking forward to the slalom," Mikaela said. "I am focusing on going for gold."
The race is Friday.