Mikaela Shiffrin: NBC slammed for badgering American skier after second straight disqualification
Mikaela Shiffrin, the US alpine skier who made headlines for her second straight disqualification at the 2022 Olympics, stated she would be avoiding interviews. Fans were particularly upset with NBC, which aired close coverage of the six-time World Champion in tears after an unexpected early departure in the slalom race's first run on Wednesday, February 9.
Following controversial TV coverage of her disqualifications in the giant slalom, which featured a candid interview with NBC, the two-time gold champion made a statement through a US Olympic spokeswoman on Thursday, February 10, as per Reuters, "Mikaela (nor her mother/coach Eileen) will not be doing any media for the foreseeable future. Thank you for respecting her/their space right now."
After dramatically missing a gate early in the slalom, NBC's cameras focused on a distraught Shiffrin. She told the network in a heartbreaking interview that her performance "makes me second-guess the last 15 years. ... Just processing a lot for sure, and I feel really bad."
The NBC broadcast drew a lot of flak for concentrating so heavily on Shiffrin's disappointment. Some viewers compared it to the hard attention on gymnast Simone Biles, who had to withdraw from some events at this year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo due to mental health concerns. According to NBC, Shiffrin took questions from reporters for 45 minutes following her slalom elimination that seemed to be sufficient for her. The US ski team confirmed that she will compete in the Super-G on Friday.
The irony of keeping a camera fixed on her while expressing bewilderment over her skiing out and then contemplating whether the pressure is contributing…. We’ve watched Simone, Naomi and others experience the same. Do better sports media. #mikaelashiffrin— Jules ✨ (@julesinacrown) February 9, 2022
"I was trying to ski smooth and just really good, solid turns and trying to be in my tuck as much as possible," Shiffrin said. "I think I had a really good plan, and the course ran similar to how I thought." Twitter users chastised the network for focusing on Shiffrin during the tragic moment, as well as NBC commentators for making a lot of disparaging statements about the 26-year-old. Shiffrin's achievement was dubbed "one of the biggest shockers in Alpine skiing history" by broadcaster Dan Hicks.
@NBCOlympics your coverage of Mikaela Shiffrin in one of the most difficult moments of her life was disgusting, from the terrible comments made by the commentators to the constant shot of her sitting in the snow. You should be ashamed!! #mikaelashiffrin— Tamerawj (@Tamerawj2) February 9, 2022
"That will play in slow motion for ages to come in her mind," Ted Ligety, a two-time gold medalist, added, calling Shiffrin's blunder "almost a rookie mistake." Molly Solomon, an executive producer at NBC, told the Associated Press on Wednesday night that she had no regrets about airing the Shiffrin clip. She stated, "We have an obligation in that moment, as the broadcaster of the Olympic games, to cover the moment. There’s no script when there’s a wipeout on the slopes or a fall in figure skating. We’re watching real people with real emotions in real time and we did everything we were supposed to do."
Solomon used a Super Bowl comparison to justify NBC's Olympic coverage strategy, she stated, "I’ve thought a lot about this, and if Joe Burrow or Matthew Stafford sit on the sidelines 22 minutes after the Super Bowl on Sunday, you can bet the cameras are going to stay on them."
"Here we are in 2022 and we have a double standard in coverage of women’s sports. Women’s sports should be analyzed through the same lens as the men. The most famous skier in the world did not finish her two best events. So we are going to show her sitting on the hill and analyze what went wrong. You bet we are," Solomon remarked.