Shiffrin at the Alpine World Ski Championships: an almost perfect gold medal – sport

Shiffrin at the Alpine World Ski Championships: an almost perfect gold medal – sport

A few days ago, the ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin a deja vu. She still had a few goals to go in the alpine combined slalom, that had to be the gold medal, her first at the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Méribel. And then: The American slipped out of the course, an incredulous smile playing on her face. “I thought someone was going to pick me up,” Shiffrin said.

Did that start again?

You can win the overall World Cup four times, have two Olympic victories on your letterhead, six world titles and 85 World Cup victories – if you go through such winter games as Shiffrin did in Beijing a year ago, it sticks to you like a shadow. At that time she started five times in individual races, five medals were conceivable. Instead, Shiffrin won: nothing. “I think I recently answered 100 questions about whether things will be like Beijing again,” she said recently in Méribel: “If you’re constantly asked about it, it’s so difficult to think positively.”

At least such interrogations should have been done since Thursday. The 27-year-old won gold in giant slalom, it was her first world title in this discipline, her seventh overall and her 13th world championship medal – no athlete has collected more in individual alpine races since the Second World War. But Shiffrin can’t do without flushes in these title fights either. When she collapsed at the finish, you could think that the turbulence of the past few days was pouring down on her.

After throwing it out of the race in the combination, Shiffrin quickly retaliated, with a silver in the Super-G. Nevertheless, she steamed with anger and tears when she gave the first interviews. The race was so close, “I thought I’d be fifth or sixth,” she said – something like that happened to her later in giant slalom. Instead, she said after her silver ride in the Super-G, she now had to take questions about whether she was happy, Shiffrin complained: “I wonder if I should even give interviews, I’m second and very happy.”

“A shock” is what the US team says about the early departure of Shiffrin’s coach

Shortly thereafter, she gave up downhill and parallel races and prepared – unlike in Beijing – with full force for the giant slalom and slalom. However, a few environmental activists said they researched that Shiffrin covered the distance from their base camp in Gap to the training slope in Orcieres by helicopter. She had just signed a letter from the Austrian downhill skier Julian Schütter. Several hundred athletes accused the world association Fis of doing too little to combat climate change (which Fis rejected). Shiffrin had also openly advocated in Méribel that everyone had to do more to fight climate change: “What we love so much is in great danger,” she said.

And now a helicopter flight to the neighborhood? The story was fictitious, countered Shiffrin’s environment. In fact, the local ski club offered the shuttle flight, but Shiffrin refused and drove by car. The supervisors were not so comfortable: they organized a few bodyguards for Shiffrin.

Alpine World Ski Championships: Unstoppable: Mikaela Shiffrin also finds the fastest line in the second giant slalom run.

Unstoppable: Mikaela Shiffrin also finds the fastest line in the second giant slalom run.

(Photo: Mario Buehner/GEPA pictures/Imago)

Shortly before the giant slalom, Shiffrin herself delivered an extraordinary message: she said she had decided to start the next phase of her career under new leadership – and no longer under Mike Day, who coached her for seven years in that team had, which Shiffrin exclusively prepares. Patrick Riml, the US association’s head of alpine skiing, told the AP news agency that before the giant slalom, Shiffrin had informed her coach that she was going to separate from him after this season – Day then left immediately angry. “A shock,” said Riml. It seemed awkward, if nothing else, that Shiffrin’s team informed the head coach during the title fights and not shortly after, as is customary in the industry. And then?

Mike Day isn’t the first coach to leave Team Shiffrin with a bang

Both Swiss television and ARD confirmed on Thursday, after the first giant slalom run, that they had received the order from Shiffrin’s environment not to ask any questions about Mike Day – otherwise they would stop the TV interviews. Questionable, found not only the TV presenters. In the press conference, Shiffrin faltered several times when she was asked about her ex-trainer. “I just want to say thank you to Mike. He’s been such an important part of my career and my life. It’s sad how it ended, during the World Championships. But that’s how it happened. I also wanted to give him enough time to that he can take care of his future,” she said. Although there would still have been plenty of time for that after the World Cup. Apparently, as could be heard again and again in Méribel, some dissonances had already been heard beforehand.

Of course, Day isn’t the first coach to leave the team noisily. The separation from Austrian Roland Pfeifer after the 2014 Winter Games was “pretty disgusting”, Shiffrin once said. Even his successor, Brandon Dyksterhouse, apparently rubbed himself against the fact that Eileen Shiffrin, Mikaela’s mother, directed the daughter’s environment quite rigorously at times. Once, Dyksterhouse recalled, the mother wanted to wake her daughter up at 5 a.m. to show her a technical error in the video study. On the other hand, these details probably tell a lot about the title collection that Shiffrin is currently expanding in Méribel.

“Coaches are important,” said Italy’s Marta Bassino, fourth behind Shiffrin, Federica Brignone and Ragnhild Mowinckel on Thursday. “But Shiffrin, Bassino said, “is still Shiffrin.”

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