Mikaela Shiffrin had just finished lunch on Thursday in the picturesque French Alps village of Courchevel. An hour earlier, with a second-place finish in a super-G race – a day after a win in a downhill race – Shiffrin clinched the overall World Cup season title, skiing’s biggest prize. competition, representing the most successful in the world. -trotting marathon, six months, 37 races.
For Shiffrin, 27, it was his fourth overall title, equaling the American record held by Lindsey Vonn. Only one woman, the Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proll, six times winner, has more.
In many ways, Shiffrin had a good year.
How then does she explain the enduring images of her troubled odyssey to the 2022 Beijing Olympics: three jaw-dropping falls on snow in three of her best events?
“It’s confusing,” she conceded in a phone interview Thursday. She then offered several thoughts and theories, but then stopped.
“I digress,” she said. There was a simpler explanation.
“Some days it doesn’t work; it happens to be at the races that most people watch every four years,” Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion, finally said. “You can try too hard and it ends up backfiring, and after 11 years of my career I know that and I haven’t found the right balance in China.
“But that doesn’t define what happened in my past and it doesn’t define what’s going to happen in the future. It was an honest failure and we don’t have to analyze that too much.
Those comments contrasted with Shiffrin’s deep minutes of soul-searching after his worrying accidents at the Games. But Shiffrin is a month away from the 2022 Olympics and back to more familiar territory. She said she still felt ‘a bit embarrassed’ about the Games, where she didn’t medal in any of her five events, but added: ‘I’m also proud to have picked myself up and gone. to have raced and to have never stopped trying. .”
Shiffrin has now been on the podium in four of her last six World Cup races. On Thursday, Shiffrin, a three-time Olympian who is on the verge of setting all major ski racing records, laughed, saying, “Today was a good day. Yesterday was a good day. I’m sure there will be other good days.
As the season-ending World Cup finals continue this weekend in France, Shiffrin has two races left and will be among the favorites in each. Since the finals are the rare time the men’s and women’s circuits meet in the same place, Shiffrin also reunited with her boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who won the silver and bronze medals at the Beijing Games for Norway. . After Wednesday’s women’s downhill win, which was Shiffrin’s first victory in the discipline in two years, Kilde met her in the finish area for a long hug.
“What a day,” Kilde said.
The duo trained on Monday at the Eclipse downhill racecourse in Courchevel. Hours before Shiffrin’s victory, Kilde won the men’s downhill World Cup season title, 14 months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He added the super-G discipline title the following day.
“It was wonderful to be able to see Aleks and it’s been a very exciting week for him too,” Shiffrin said. “There’s just a better energy around us and it’s been pretty special. Just being able to talk with him helped realign some perspectives.
“There’s a lot of things I really have to be thankful for, especially with everything that’s happened with Ukraine over the past few weeks. There’s some real serious shit going on in the world this year.
Shiffrin said the potential for military conflict in Ukraine was a constant backdrop in the Olympic Athletes’ Village.
“The Olympics was an interesting place, it was a bit crazy to be there competing when we also knew that Russia was bordering Ukraine,” she said. “And then seeing some of the Ukrainian athletes there and wondering what they were thinking and then it was like, ‘OK, we’re just going to have the Olympics now.’
“It was very strange.”
For most of the season, Shiffrin said his emotions have been up and down.
“Obviously the Olympics were some of my lowest moments in ski racing, and even in life,” she said. “It was a difficult wall to cross. But winning the overall title became a major goal. And sometimes the natural balance of life swings in different directions.
“I don’t really believe in fate or that things have to happen, but somehow it felt a little easier the last four days than the last two. months of this season. I caught my breath and enjoyed it more.
“You know, really enjoy the good days. Today was a good day.”