After stepping away from ski racing to grieve following her father’s shock death, Mikaela Shiffrin will return to competition in Sweden next week, “hoping to make her dad happy.”
Jeff Shiffrin died on February 2 from a head injury following an accident at home in Colorado. He was 65.
Mikaela and her mother Eileen – her sometime coach and traveling companion – flew home from Europe to be with him in his final hours, shutting down the US skier’s campaign for a fourth straight World Cup overall title. Since then, Mikaela and her family have been coming to terms with their loss in private.
“Accepting this new ‘reality’ is going to take a long time, and maybe we never truly will, maybe we don’t have to,” said Shiffrin in a video posted on social media Thursday.
“Because we can still feel him here. In our hearts, in our thoughts, in the sky and mountains and snow. He made his mark, and he is here.”
Eventually, Shiffrin felt able to go skiing and then training, to feel “closer” to her dad.
“It has been therapeutic to be on the mountain,” said Shiffrin, who turns 25 on March 13.
But now, she says the time is right to return to the World Cup circuit, though she admits she has no expectations.
“I have no promises if I’ll actually be able to race when the time comes, and I don’t really even have goals,” she said. “I just hope to make a few good turns. I think that would make my dad happy.”
As she said at the time of his death, Shiffrin asked for the privacy of her family to be respected as she returns to competition.
“We are so thankful for the time we had with him – we cherish every single one of those moments – and we will keep him here in our hearts and our memories forever,” she added.
In her absence, Shiffrin has been overtaken in the World Cup overall standings by Italy’s Federica Brignone, who leads by 153 points. Next week’s slalom, giant slalom and parallel giant slalom in Are, Sweden are the final races on the calendar after the scheduled World Cup finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy from March 18-22 were canceled because of the coronavirus, according to the Italian Winter Sport Federation.
Shiffrin has won 66 World Cup races and sits fourth in the all-time list behind Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).