VAIL, Colo. — Mikaela Shiffrin’s world has changed, but her ability to dominate skiing has stayed the same.
Shiffrin is arguably one of the biggest names in sports. While the past two years have brought her personal challenges, she is skiing as fast as ever and learning to love her sport again.
When she’s racing, Shiffrin has become of the best at putting distance between her and the competition.
With 73 World Cup wins, she’s gaining on the record of 86 set by Ingemar Stenmark. She has two Olympic gold medals from two Games and is racing in her third Olympics.
Even when you’re that good at creating distance, life has a way of catching up.
"There are moments where there’s so much overwhelming sadness, anger and pain from things that have happened,” she said.
In the past two years, Shiffrin lost her grandmother and her father, Jeff, who died in an accident at home while she was racing in Europe.
“I still struggle with the guilt," she said. "There’s the question of doing things that make you happy. Why should you be able to do things that make you happy because that person is not there to experience it with you or talk about it with you or just do it themselves?”
It was a lot of personal tragedy for Shiffrin during a pandemic that disrupted the World Cup season. She went from a record-setting 17 wins in the season before to three wins.
“I didn’t get as much as I wanted out of the season, and I felt like I was lacking," she said. "My skiing was lacking, and that left me and everyone working with me hungry at the end of the season.”
That hunger pushed her. While other racers took a break at the end of their long ski-racing season, Shiffrin went right into ski testing and training.
“I was also maybe the only athlete on the World Cup circuit thinking I’m getting back out and training in two days, and I’m excited about it,” she said.
That excitement and work is paying off with her focus and speed.
Before the 2022 Olympics, Shiffrin was back on top of the podium, while eyeing racing in speed and technical events at the Winter Games.
She was getting that distance in racing again, and distance from the past.
“A little more distance from some of the horrible things that’s have happened over the past several years,” she said. “Time doesn’t heal, but helps you feel a little less broken."
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