Her father’s death, pandemic-caused cancellations and a wildfire evacuation gave the World Cup champion a new view on competing: “I want to enjoy it, the way I have enjoyed it in the past.”
Usually, at this time of year, Mikaela Shiffrin, the seven-time Olympic and world ski champion, is building the mental fortitude to dominate another ski racing season.
But the last several months have staggered and changed Shiffrin, 25. In February, while she was competing in Europe, her father, Jeff, died in an accident at home in Colorado. After taking a six-week break from competition, Shiffrin decided to return to racing only to have the season’s final events canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, denying her a last chance to defend her multiple World Cup titles.
Returning to Colorado, Shiffrin — in a first — found a more potent voice on social media in support of calls for racial justice. Many of her followers, used to cheerful workout or dance videos, mounted a bitter backlash. Shiffrin’s response: “Wanna ‘Unfollow?’ I’ll see you to the door.”