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A Few Good Turns

By Megan Harrod
March, 12 2023
Shiffrin family 87
Mikaela Shiffrin sits with her family after winning her 87th World Cup victory, breaking Ingemar Stenmark's record for World Cup wins. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Mike Dawson)

How does one summarize 87 victories over 11 years? 

It was always about just a few good turns—an approach initiated by her parents, Jeff and Eileen, and fostered and embraced by the whole family, including Mikaela Shiffrin’s older brother Taylor. Eventually, it would become the approach taken by her entire support team. And that approach would, unbeknownst to the family at the time, inspire the world and generations of skiers to come. 

It was never about 87. And it won’t be about 100 victories, if that feat ends up happening. It was always about, simply, a few good turns and the rest is history. History made. History in the making. History yet to be made. 

A two-time Olympic champion, seven-time World Champion and now, the winningest alpine ski racer of all time, Mikaela’s career can certainly be easily summed up by numberslots and lots and lots of thembut those numbers would never truly do her story justice. To know Mikaela’s story, one must attempt to fathom the years and years of blood, sweat and tears she has put into attempting to perfect her craft. And she is still well on her way in her journey for the quest for excellence. 

Like the most fluid poem or the most beautiful classical piano piece, Mikaela’s craft was always smooth and effortless. Her approach was sometimes criticized, but something many marveled at and learned from. How fast, how many disciplines, and how she could move forward after what could not so simply be summed up as a “tough few years,” but a debilitating period of suffering and heartache after the death of her father. And then, there was a public disappointment on the world stage in Beijing where Mikaela walked away capturing not gold medals, but the hearts of viewers around the globe. 

And here we are, where thousands upon thousands of a “few good turns” later, we’ve arrived at 87 in a magical place to Mikaela: Åre, Sweden. To happen here, in Åre, Sweden… 

  • Where Mikaela won her first World Cup on December 20, 2012. 
  • Where Mikaela met the young cancer survivor Emma Lundell, who made a lasting impact and is still a friend to this day, celebrating number 86 and 87 with Mikaela. 
  • Where Mikaela suffered her first major injury in 2015. 
  • Where she won three World Championships medals in 2019, and rose above exhaustion and illness to do the unthinkable and win her record fourth-straight slalom World Championships gold. 
  • Where she would attempt to return to the World Cup following the soul-crushing agony after the loss of her father, Jeff — only for the return to be delayed and the season cut short due to COVID. 
  • The home of Ingemar Stenmark. 
  • The place where she equaled Ingemar’s record, and then just one day later, reset the record—a record that stood for 34 years and most people thought would never be broken. 

Mikaela doesn’t really believe in fate, but she does acknowledge there’s something fateful about all of this. Maybe it’s the magic of Åre, Sweden or it’s the magic of Jeff looking down and reminding her that the only numbers that really matter are a few good turns.