Shiffrin Announces Return To Europe
Olympic and World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin announced her return to Europe, following more than a month of absence from FIS Ski World Cup competition due to the unexpected passing of her father Jeff in early February.
In a heartfelt message entitled "A Note to the World" delivered by Mikaela on Instagram Thursday morning, she announced her return to Europe. Since early February, Mikaela has been at home in Edwards, Colo. During her time in Colo., Mikaela has found solace in the mountains, training in both Vail and Aspen.
Over the last few weeks, my family and I have received an overwhelming amount of support and love. The most kind and heartwarming messages you could imagine, checking in on us, sharing quotes and poems, song-lyrics, and telling wonderful stories about my Dad. Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in these messages, like we can’t keep up with the support and love that everyone has shown, yet in so many ways it has also been our lifeline. We have not been able to respond to everything, but we want you all to know that we feel your love, and we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing it with us. Many have asked how we are doing, and where we are in the “grieving process”? The truth is, we haven’t really even started. Accepting this new “reality” is going to take a long time, and maybe we never truly will, maybe we don’t have to. Because we can still feel him here. In our hearts, in our thoughts, in the sky and mountains and snow. He made his mark, and he is here. Many have also asked about my return to skiing and racing. I have been able to train a little bit over the last few weeks. It has been a slow process, but it has been theraputic to be on the mountain. I’ve found training to be a place where I can feel closer to my dad, yet it provides enough of a distraction so that feeling of “closeness” can be separated from the pain. I am flying to Scandinavia today. I have no promises if I’ll actually be able to race when the time comes, and I don’t really even have goals. I just hope to make a few good turns. I think that would make my dad happy. If and when I do return to competition I’d ask that you continue to respect my privacy, especially as it relates to my family’s heartbreak. We are so thankful for the time we had with him—we cherish every single one of those moments—and we will keep him here in our hearts and our memories forever. 🤍
In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Mikaela said of her father,
“The best way to honor someone’s memory is to be so grateful that they existed in your life.”
Mikaela has not announced a return to competition, but she has said she will travel to Scandinavia and that—like always—her program is very day-to-day. The next FIS Ski World Cup competition fo the women is in Åre, Sweden on March 12-14. In her video announcement, Mikaela said she will be flying to Scandinavia on Thursday but is uncertain that she will step into the start gate when the time comes,
“As far as racing goes, I am flying to Scandinavia today. I have no promises if I’ll actually be able to race. I don’t really even have goals. Any time the topic of winning would come up in the conversation with my dad, he would always say, ‘But, did you make any good turns?’ That’s sort of the basis of our family’s entire philosophy. So, I guess, that would be my goal. I just want to make a few good turns. I think that would make him happy.”
There are many variables that make the remainder of the World Cup calendar questionable. Both questionable weather in Europe, as well as the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), may compromise the remainder of the season. The FIS is scheduled to make an announcement on FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy (or elsewhere) on March 6.
At the time of her departure from Europe on February 2, Mikaela held the lead in the World Cup overall, slalom, and super-G standings. She was in second in downhill and giant slalom. During her absence from the World Cup, Mikaela missed eight races in total (three downhills, two super-Gs, a combined, a giant slalom, and a slalom), while Italy's Federica Brignone took the lead in the standings and currently leads by 153 points over Mikaela. Federica has the lead in giant slalom, with 407 points, while Mikaela is in third with 314 points. In the slalom, Slovakia's Petra Vlhova has a slim 20-point lead over Mikaela. Switzerland's Corinne Suter leads the super-G standings with 360 points, while Mikaela is in seventh with 186 points.
The decision to return to the start gate in Åre will be very day-to-day for Mikaela. Stay tuned for more information.