Freud: Mikaela Shiffrin grew up in 2021 and that’s a big sign for next ski season | AspenTimes.com
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Freud: Mikaela Shiffrin grew up in 2021 and that’s a big sign for next ski season

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
Mikaela Shiffrin reacts at the finish line after winning a 2018 women's World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland.
AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti

VAIL — Mikaela Shiffrin’s back home after a trying season. We’ve heard that Cabo is lovely this time of year. Just a thought.

Since Mikaela’s back in town, the Vail Daily’s Ross Leonhart was able to get on the horn with the ski goddess to review the season. If you haven’t read it already, read it. If you’ve read it, read it again.

As I’ve read it a few times, the same message has come through over and over — the kid has grown up a lot this year.



Was Mikaela always mature beyond her years? Yes. Let’s remember she’s been on the World Cup for 10 years now. She was 16 when she started and was more thoughtful, articulate and so on than any of us are in our 20s. Shiffrin just turned 26 and she’s always “gotten it.”

But you grow through life experience as well, and sadly nothing accelerates maturity like the loss of a loved one. A lot of us have experienced a moment like Mikaela did when her pop, Jeff, passed suddenly on Feb. 2, 2020.




Feb. 2, 2020 was Aug. 18, 2006, for me. I was a zombie for six months and not overly on my game for long after that. Let’s again remember that Shiffrin makes her living by traversing down the mountain as quickly as possible.

Frankly, I’m amazed that she raced this season. I’m even more amazed that she won three World Cups, a world championship gold and three other medals in Cortina, Italy.

From experience, some days after a loved one died are better than others. Most of us have office or service jobs. When we’re out of it because of mourning, it results in a typo, something misfiled or a customer gets the wrong order.

That’s bad, of course, but Mikaela was mourning at 50 mph or so. She loses concentration during a race and she’s in the netting and we’re talking about ligament tears. Had she DNF’d this season and said, “I was focusing on my race plan and then I remembered the time my father said something to me,” none of us would have thought about it twice. That would have been totally normal.

She didn’t DNF this season. She hasn’t DNF’d since 2018. She’s pretty good.

Shiffrin was able to get through this past season because, aside from being a darn good skier, she came with darn good life skills and has developed them in the past year.

Shiffrin says in Leonhart’s article, “One thing that I’ve always believed — and I think it is something my parents taught me — is that I can plan for the future, but beyond preparing for what’s coming, I don’t think so much about the future. I want to be able to win now, and if I win enough, then I could get close to (other records). It’s possible … but not the thing I’m shooting for. Who knows if I’m going to win another 20 races, but I’m able to win now, so why don’t I just focus on what I can do now?”

The Freud family calls this, “Man plans. God laughs,” but learning that there is only so much one can control is one of the big lessons of life. Some never learn this. Others learn that when they are 49 … whoops, Freud. Mikaela’s learning this at 26.

Then, there’s this quote from the article: “To me, resiliency is the ability to experience something really difficult — hardship, pain, struggle — to experience that, and to get to the other side of it, holding on to some form of strength or purpose. And it doesn’t mean you were the same person that you were before … but you keep that strength, you keep that toughness or that determination you had before.”

Of course a big loss like one’s father changes a person. When Mikaela returned in November, there were some whispers as to whether she’d have the “fire.” The 2020-21 season proved otherwise.

But if you read this quote closely, it sounds like Mikaela has gotten tougher through this ordeal.

A Mikaela Shiffrin who has increased wisdom about life in general, not to mention one who has been toughened by hardship sounds like a scary prospect for the rest of the tour next year.

cfreud@vaildaily.com


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