Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin will miss the opening race of the Alpine skiing World Cup season for the first time since 2011. The two-time gold winner and three-time World Cup champion said on social media she will sit out the event after tweaking her back last week.
The announcement comes days after she wondered in a call with media how much longer it would be worth it to be out on the road constantly competing.
Shiffrin to miss skiing opener, extending time away
Shiffrin, 25, is sitting out the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, the weekend of Oct. 17-18. The event was moved up one week for COVID-19 related safety precautions.
She said she tweaked her back skiing last week has been advised to sit the race out in order to let it heal.
Shiffrin has reached the podium in Soelden five of the last six years. She won it in 2014.
“Having started in Soelden for the last eight years straight, this feels...really frustrating and strange (for lack of better words). Luckily, this injury will heal and I will be back in the start soon... (and I can’t wait),” Shiffrin wrote.
Shiffrin hasn’t raced since Jan. 26. She missed the remainder of a shortened 2019-20 season after her father, Jeff, died on Feb. 2. She flew to Sweden and was prepared to return for the final race of the season in March, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shiffrin wrote in her post she was excited the skiing schedule is happening as the pandemic continues. She plans to return home to the United States from Europe to rest and recover. Her return date will be announced later, U.S. Ski & Snowboard said. The next race is a parallel giant slalom on Nov. 13 in Austria.
Shiffrin ponders end of career
Shiffrin questioned her future in the sport earlier this week while talking with media about the season. She said she hasn’t considered quitting yet, but isn’t sure how long it will be worth it to be traveling all the time.
After her grandmother died in October 2019, she said she still worried about ski races. But after the death of her father, she “gave up ski racing altogether and thought I wouldn’t come back at all,” she said via the Associated Press.
“The whole season is in Europe, and we are away from home for around six months during the season, and for another two months during the summer period. I am home not very often,” Shiffrin said, via the AP.
“I have so much passion, and I want to do this, and here I am, and I’m doing it, but it also takes me away from the people that I love,” she said. “At some point that is going to be too much. My brother is back home, I am not going to see him for a pretty long time, but my mom is traveling with me. If she was not able to come, I would not be here, 100 percent.”
Also, she started thinking about what her dad would have wanted her to do.
“I don’t think my dad would want me to stop for him. But it is also hard to know that because he can’t be here to tell me. Those are the things that I struggle with: How long will it be worth the travel, being away from home, all of those things,” she said. “In a way it was a consideration, but I wasn’t thinking: OK, I am going to quit now.”
Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, is a former ski racer who has coached her since she was 3. They travel together and her brother Taylor, a former collegiate ski racer, stays home in Colorado.
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