GENEVA – With her professional and personal life still troubled, Mikaela Shiffrin is realistic about her chances of winning a fourth overall World Cup title.
The American skier will compete in Courchevel, France this weekend, in her first giant slalom races since January.
It’s also been 11 months since Shiffrin raced or trained in the speed disciplines of super-G, in which she is world champion, and downhill.
Shiffrin’s life was turned upside down in February by the death of her father, just before the coronavirus pandemic caused increased anxiety and limited off-season training plans for all athletes.
“I’m in a very different position this year than ever before,” Shiffrin said during a conference call from Courchevel, acknowledging that some of her usual goals “aren’t really on the map this year.”
“I just feel like I’m catching up right now, and I don’t feel like it’s realistic or sensible to try to catch up at the exact same time at every event.”
For now, that means she needs to focus on slalom and giant slalom, the events in which she has won Olympic gold medals and 59 of her 66 World Cup wins in her career.
The season-long overall title she won three times from 2017-19 is “not my thing,” said Shiffrin.
“I could kill myself by committing suicide or I could just name a shovel and a shovel and work on what I can do,” she said, pointing to rivals “who are going to be extremely competitive and at this point I don’t see myself as one of them. “
They include Petra Vlhova, Michelle Gisin and defending champion Federica Brignone, who took advantage of Shiffrin’s break from the circuit last season to win the title.
Vlhova has won three of the four races this season, including both slaloms in Levi, Finland last month. Shiffrin finished second and fifth in those two races in her return to the competition.
With Shiffrin aiming to return to speed racing “hopefully by the end of the season”, it is unclear whether she plans to defend her super-G world title on February 9 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Her specialist events are more than a week later.
Shiffrin travels through Europe with her mother, Eileen. There are still troubled times dealing with the emotions of the loss of her father, Jeff, after an accident at the family home in Colorado.
Motivation to ski “isn’t always there 100% of the time,” she said.
“I wake up a few mornings and don’t want anything but bacon and eggs,” Shiffrin said. “In everything I do, there is a lot more general sadness and regret and also anger. It doesn’t really help motivate me, it just pisses me off. “