Mikaela Shiffrin limits World Cup goals in tough ski season
GENEVA (AP) — With her professional and personal life still unsettled, 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 has also been 11 months since Shiffrin raced or trained in the speed disciplines of super-G, in which she is a world champion, and downhill.
Shiffrin’s life was upended in February by the death of her father, just before the coronavirus pandemic added more anxiety and limited offseason training plans for all athletes.
“I’m in quite a different position this year than I ever have been,” Shiffrin said on a conference call from Courchevel, acknowledging some of her usual goals “are not really on the ticket this year.”
“I just feel like I’m playing catch-up right now, and I don’t feel like it’s realistic or wise to try to play catch up in every single event at the exact same time.”
For now, that means focusing on slalom and giant slalom, the events in which she has won Olympic gold medals and 59 of her 66 career World Cup victories.
The season-long overall title she won three times from 2017-19 is “not my thing,” Shiffrin said.
“I could either kill myself trying or I could just call a spade and spade 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 overall 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 last month in Levi, Finland. Shiffrin finished second and fifth at those two races in her return to competition.
With Shiffrin targeting a return to speed races “hopefully by the end of the season,” it is unclear if she plans to defend her super-G world title on Feb. 9 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Her specialist events are more than one week later.
Shiffrin travels in Europe with her mother, Eileen. There are still tough times coping with the emotions of losing her father, Jeff, after an accident at the family home in Colorado.
Motivation for skiing is “not always there 100% of the time,” she said.
“I wake up some mornings and I’m not hungry for anything except bacon and eggs,” Shiffrin said. “With everything I do there’s a lot more general sadness and regret and also anger. It doesn’t really help motivate me, it just makes me mad.”
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