Mikaela Shiffrin, the seven-time Olympic and world ski champion, normally builds up the mental strength at this time of year to dominate another ski racing season.
But the last few months have shaken and changed Shiffrin, 25. In February, while competing in Europe, her father, Jeff, died in an accident at home in Colorado. After a six week break from competition Shiffrin decided to start racing again just to cancel the last events of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic and deny her one last chance of defense her multiple world cup titles.
When Shiffrin returned to Colorado, he first found a stronger voice on social media to support the demand for racial justice. Many of their followers, used to happy workout or dance videos, have had a bitter backlash. Shiffrin’s answer: “Don’t you want to follow? I see you at the door.”
Then, in August, she and her mother, Eileen, were hastily packing their things and preparing to evacuate when forest fires threatened the Shiffrin Colorado house, built a year ago.
“People ask,” How are you? “Shiffrin said in a phone interview last week.” I don’t really know how to answer that. “
Then she became that youngest slalom Olympic champion At 18, Shiffrin is known for unparalleled racing precision, an unprecedented amount of alpine victories, and a regular vulnerability to moments of debilitating fear of racing.
But the past seven months, especially the ordeal of having to fly home on a flight from Germany after the news of her father’s accident, may have permanently reorganized Shiffrin’s approach to career and life.
“When you’re on a plane trying to come home to see your dying father, that’s the epitome of what you should be worried about,” she said. “Everything else pales in comparison, especially when I’m worried about whether I’ll win a race or not.
“After that, you feel guilty when you worry about little things. It changes your perspective. I hope my perspective remains changed. “
The Shiffrin family has refused to discuss the circumstances surrounding Jeff Shiffrin’s death. A medical examiner ruled it was an accident and cited the cause of death as a head injury.
Mikaela will be leaving for Europe later this month, where each of her upcoming races this season will take place as the three usual North American World Cup races have been canceled.
The coronavirus outbreak
Sport and the virus
Updated September 18, 2020
Here’s what happens as the world of sports slowly comes back to life:
- One of Louisiana’s most successful high school soccer coaches retired because he was prone to Covid-19 because of his blood cancer. At least 30 high school and club coaches died from the coronavirus.
- With the return of football, it’s the ten largest cities Prepare for further outbreaks. Although the games will be played without spectators in the stadiums, some officials are concerned that they will lead to more off-campus gatherings that could spread the virus.
- Fans can debate whether this season’s baseball records are in place really count. The official historian of M.L.B. however, insists that the achievements are as real as any other.
For years she has been a medalist at various events, from technical slalom, her specialty, to daredevil downhill, but the calendar for this winter’s world championship is not yet complete, so Shiffrin is undecided about her entire competition schedule. For the first time in three years, Shiffrin will no longer defend an overall World Cup title and it will be the last full preparatory season before the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
“I feel pretty strong and have had a good workout,” said Shiffrin, whose on-snow sessions were limited to what was available in the western US as the usual off-season locations were banned in New Zealand and South America. “I’m ready to go, but I don’t really know what to expect when we get there.”
Before the Shiffrin family left for Europe for six uninterrupted months, they helped set up a fund for winter sports enthusiasts in Jeff Shiffrin’s honor.
The Jeff Shiffrin athlete Resiliency FundThe company, founded by the US ski and snowboard company, the umbrella organization for several Olympic winter sports, aims to support athletes in several sports whose training has been canceled this year or whose travel expenses have skyrocketed in the pandemic. The fund was launched by six families with a history of winter sports donations who agreed to increase the contributions collected through the website up to $ 1.5 million.
New safety guidelines and travel restrictions have increased the cost of transporting around 175 American winter sports enthusiasts around the globe.
Tiger Shaw, the U.S. president and general manager for skiing and snowboarding, said coronavirus testing protocols alone would add $ 1 million to his budget. Mandatory quarantine for a single team coming to Europe from the US can mean the additional cost of housing and feeding 45 athletes and staff for 14 additional days. In addition to the tax burden, the organization’s largest fundraising drives cannot hold as usual due to social distancing practices.
“We don’t want any of our athletes to feel disadvantaged on the way to the Olympics, which are coming up soon,” said Shiffrin. “We want the fund to raise awareness of how much resilience there is now as everyone has conquered so much this year. On a personal level, I feel that naturally. “
Her newfound willingness to speak up on social issues was due to both the unrest across the country and the chance to get better educated in a spring and summer with more free time.
“I didn’t feel like it was okay to be silent or just to say, ‘Oh, I don’t really know enough,” Shiffrin said. “I did some research and wanted to be on the side of people who were up Changes will exist. “
Shiffrin was about to take another tour of the World Cup track, where her first win was eight eventful years ago. She insisted that she not focus too much on regaining her place in the sport.
“The motivation is there because I want to keep earning my place, not because I want to get something back,” she said. “I don’t want to compromise my passion for skiing with this attitude. I want to enjoy it as I have enjoyed it in the past. I want it to be as real and pure as possible.”