Mikaela Shiffrin aims to bounce back from crash and make Winter Olympics history at Beijing 2022

With the 26-year-old set to compete in all five individual skiing events, Shiffrin will be hoping to become the first US skier to win three medals at a single Games.
Though she is widely considered the most dominant skier of her generation — and will go down as one of the greatest ever when she eventually retires — even securing one medal is by no means a certainty, given the quality of her opposition.
Shiffrin will be among the gold medal contenders in the combined — an event she won silver in four years ago in PyeongChang and also won at last year’s World Championships — although Monday’s DNF in the giant slalom is proof that nothing is a given in alpine skiing.
The Colorado native also created an interesting pre-Olympic wrinkle in the lead up to Beijing, beating heavy favorite Petra Vlhova in the slalom in Schladming, Austria.
It was a record-breaking 47th World Cup slalom win for Shiffrin, who became the skier with the most victories in a single World Cup discipline, breaking Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark’s previous record of 46 giant slalom wins.
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates with her gold medal from the giant slalom in PyeongChang.Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates with her gold medal from the giant slalom in PyeongChang.
The win was certainly something of a shock, as Vlhova had dominated the slalom this season with five wins and two runner-up finishes.
The rescheduling of three of the five events in PyeongChang due to high winds forced Shiffrin to pull out of super-G and downhill and the compacted schedule impacted her preparation for the slalom, leading her to fall agonizingly short of a medal in fourth place.
However, external factors permitting in Beijing, Shiffrin should have a legitimate shot at claiming a trio of medals.

Overcoming grief

The upcoming Games will be particularly emotional for Shiffrin as she competes at the Olympics for the first time without her father, Jeff, who died suddenly from an accident in February 2020 while at home in Colorado. He was 65.
Competing on the other side of the world at the time, the devastated skier rushed home with her mother Eileen and brother Taylor to be by his side.
“I was really grateful that we got a chance to see him in those final moments,” Shiffrin told CNN’s Christina Macfarlane back in 2020.
It is a given in the skiing world that few families are as tight as the Shiffrins. During the season, her mother is frequently seen alongside Shiffrin on the race hill.
Her father would join the media in the finish area, trying to capture the best picture of his daughter crossing the finish line. Another medal in tow, another memory for the family album.
“Skiing is something that my entire family shares. And my dad, he loved skiing, he loved it … I found being on the mountains was like being close to him.”

‘The consequences are too big’

Monday proved to be a tough day for skiing’s most famous power couple.
Not long after Shiffrin had crashed out after just five turns of her opening runs, her boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde could only manage fifth place in the men’s downhill.
Kilde is currently the world’s No. 1 men’s downhill skier and was favorite the take gold coming into Beijing 2022, but he admitted “some mistakes” cost him any chance at a medal.
Ahead of their opening events, Kilde explained what life was like in the Olympic Village with Shiffrin.
“Everybody says: ‘Yeah, now you can spend so much time together and it’s nice to have her’ but it’s more challenging,” he says. “With Covid and restrictions, you have to be really careful.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Mikaela Shiffrin attend the Gold Medal Gala in New York City.Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Mikaela Shiffrin attend the Gold Medal Gala in New York City.
“It’s a tease kind of, if you know what I mean. You see her but you can’t really touch her, can’t really be with her that much. But it’s really nice to have her here. Of course we can eat dinner together and it’s no problem. We really enjoy that.
“We are keeping the same routine as always, face-timing, talking on the phone. We try to be careful because if we get Covid then the consequences are too big.”
Given their competitive nature — and the fact they are both at the top of their field — Klide said it’s beneficial for both of them to be dating a high-level skier.
“Just in general how things are feeling, experiences, decision-making,” he says. “All those general things about skiing, not really too much technical.
“She sends me videos and I send her videos and then we try to learn from each other a little. I have a lot to learn from her.”

‘Morality versus being able to do your job’

In an interview with CNN in 2021, Shiffrin spoke about the “morality” of competing at Beijing 2022 under the shadow of alleged human rights violations in China, in particular against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.
The US State Department estimates as many as two million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang province since 2017, although China has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses.
“What’s a real bummer is that there’s not only accusations but, like, legitimate proof in a lot of these places we’ve been going the last several Olympics,” she said.
“One of the important things about the Olympics is that it is supposed to be a global event, not just in your sort of mainstream sporting countries, but it’s supposed to be global. I do understand the importance of trying to stay true to that pledge, essentially. But it is tough, to be honest.
“The Olympics is big, and it’s something that you shoot for, and you don’t want to miss it.
“And you certainly don’t want to be put in the position of having to choose between human rights like morality versus being able to do your job, which on the other hand can bring light to some issues or can actually bring hope to the world at a very difficult time.”

This is not a CAPTIS article. Originally, it was published here.