An Unbreakable Bond: Shiffrin's Story of Resilience Featured in Bleacher Report
"The past year should have been a victory lap for Mikaela Shiffrin. Instead, it left her on empty after she lost first her Nana, then her dad, then her skiing. But she refused to let it break her, and now her spirit is returning thanks to one very special relationship." —Mirin Fader, Bleacher Report
Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin—"a once-in-a-century type athlete," as former teammate and idol Bode Miller refers to her in the piece—recently shared her story of grief, resilience, love, mothers and daughters, and what it is like to be one of the most dominant athletes on the planet recently with Bleacher Report.
From losing her dear grandmother "nana" in October just days before the start of the 2019-20 season while in Soelden, Austria to dealing with the heavy weight of the world's expectations after an otherworldly and historical 2018-19 season to the unthinkable tragedy in her father Jeff's passing, Mikaela reveals the crushing pain she and her family have experienced in the last several months in an incredibly raw, poignant manner.
Bleacher Report writer Mirin Fader had originally reached out back in early January, looking to profile Mikaela and elaborate on the struggles an elite level at the top of their game has to stay at the top of their game, how Eileen (Mikaela's mother) plays an important role in that success, and the challenges Mikaela had been facing in the 2019-20 season thus far.
"There is a critic living inside Mikaela, constantly demanding she reach for a bar she can't ever touch because she is raising it every day.
Every race, every training, she inspects herself. She has to be this way. Because she is after something much deeper, much more difficult than dominance itself: sustaining dominance."
With the Sports Illustrated feature and other big projects mid-season, there simply was no room at the time in her schedule, and then Mikaela's world came to a screeching halt in early February when she faced yet another challenge—the sudden loss of her father, her "family's CEO" and their "mountains, our ocean, our sunrise, our heart, our soul, our everything," as she described Jeff in a post announcing the tragedy.
Slowly, Mikaela returned to the mountain—a place she felt closer to her father. Slowly, she returned to the start gate. Then, a month later, she got on a plane and traveled to Åre, Sweden for the final World Cup races of the season. She knew that her mother and the coaches didn't expect for her to compete and that just getting on the place was a win in their eyes, but she wanted to race.
"But Mikaela had her mind made up: She was racing. 'More than the results, or prize money,' she says, 'those races were going to be good for my actual heart.'"
A global pandemic had other plans, as the races were cancelled mere hours after Mikaela had announced her return, but Mikaela showed incredible resiliency in returning to the mountain. And when she returned to Edwards, Colo., Mirin called once again, and Mikaela was ready to share her story. It was not the story either woman had planned on, but it is a beautiful tribute to Mikaela's father Jeff.