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Mikaela Shiffrin finishes her first race of these Olympics, the super-G.

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Five days and three races after her Beijing Olympics journey began, Mikaela Shiffrin’s smile returned at an Alpine finish area on Friday.

After failing to navigate more than 12 gates and not completing her opening runs in two of her best events this week, Shiffrin skied a clean and efficient run in the super-G, a speed race she has not entered in an Olympic Games.

She did not medal in the race but seemed relaxed, even a bit jubilant afterward.

“Today I proved to myself that I can still trust my instincts a bit, and that’s really, really huge,” Shiffrin said in an interview with NBC. “I feel much more optimistic right now.”

Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland won the gold, followed by Mirjam Puchner of Austria for silver and Michelle Gisin of Switzerland for bronze.

Asked to describe the support she has received in the wake of her disqualifications in two races, Shiffrin answered: “I don’t feel like I deserve it. It’s been insane how many people have reached out to try and cheer me up. I want to say, ‘You don’t have to waste your time on me because I’m going to be fine.’”

She said she was surprised at her performance so far, but there was a silver lining to her rough week.

“I would never have felt that humans could be so kind. It’s the most surprising thing of my Olympic experience is how kind people have been in the face of my failure,” she said. “It is failure. It’s OK to say that. I’m OK with that. And I’m sorry for it, but I was also trying, and I’m proud of that.”

To many sports fans, the Alpine races may not seem dissimilar. But they are as varied as the 100-meter and 5,000-meter competitions in track. Shiffrin, a three-time overall World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, does not specialize in speed events. She took years to “learn to fly” — a term skiers use to describe the adjustment to high-speed, jump-infused speed events — and the treachery and danger of those races are not a natural fit with her personality.

Shiffrin slipped once in the midsection of Friday’s race and had another small miscue elsewhere in the racecourse, but showed no tentativeness in her approach and instead charged aggressively from the start to capture the lead in the race’s opening segment. Most of her descent at the National Alpine Center in Yanqing was solid and technically adept, and after the first 15 most highly ranked super-G racers in the field had completed their runs Friday, Shiffrin was eighth, .79 of a second off the early leader Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland.

Her run complete, Shiffrin grinned as she slid to a stop and then gave a little wave to the crowd. Within minutes she was embraced by her mother and coach, Eileen, and hugged by her boyfriend Aleksander Aamondt Kilde, who earned his first Olympic medal yesterday with a silver in the men’s Alpine combined.

The scene was a reversal of two heartbreaking days of racing earlier this week in her best events, the giant slalom and slalom, when she could not successfully negotiate the top portions of either racecourse.

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