Mikaela Shiffrin makes coaching adjustment ahead of Beijing Games
Jeff Lackie will not return to Europe after COVID bout
VAIL — With just three weeks until the Olympics begin, Mikaela Shiffrin has dismissed longtime coach and trainer Jeff Lackie, according to Ski Racing Media.
Lackie told Ski Racing Media on Monday that he was relieved of his duties on account of contracting COVID-19 after traveling to his home in Toronto. He had returned to Canada while Shiffrin was quarantining and recovering from the virus herself.
“I’m proud to say we developed an all-around skier who was highly competitive in all events,” Lackie described his now-former athlete to Ski Racing Media. “She still has a lot more to accomplish. I wish her and the team the best of luck and hope things go well in China.”
The move comes just a week after Shiffrin moved past Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark for most career World Cup victories in a single discipline with her 47th slalom win on Jan. 11 in Schladming, Austria. Lackie mainly worked with Shiffrin on strength and conditioning and in the speed disciplines during his six-year tenure.
“It’s important that Mikaela has a team around her that’s going to be able to provide what she needs, especially in the lead-up to something as stressful as the Olympic Games,” Lackie said. “So, the decision was made to replace me, and I’m incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish with Mikaela over the past six years.”
The move was confirmed by Jesse Hunt, the Alpine director for the U.S. ski team.
“Given the ongoing COVID-19 challenges, and with Jeff being back in Canada for a few weeks now, it’s been decided that he will not return to Team Shiffrin leading up to Beijing,” Hunt told Ski Racing Media. He also said that Shiffrin will work closely with the U.S. women’s speed staff in the lead-up to the Games and in Beijing.
“Mikaela has been crossing over into speed and working with the women’s speed coaches for a number of years now,” Hunt said. “She is confident in the speed staff and enjoys working with them.”
Coley Oliver, a coach with the U.S. women’s Europa Cup program, will replace Lackie.
“Coley will join and support the team where he is needed,” Hunt added. Shiffrin’s staff also comprises of Mike Day, her personal head coach, and her mother, Eileen Shiffrin.
Shiffrin plans on racing all five individual events at the Olympics for the first time but did not compete in Zauchensee last week and will also sit out the downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, this coming weekend to focus on training. Her social media shows her currently at Reiteralm Bergbahnen in Schladming, Austria.
Her next World Cup will be the giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, on Jan. 25. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the overall World Cup standings and second in both the slalom and giant slalom discipline standings.
Mother Nature — and some unfortunate training injuries — completely changed the vibe around the women’s halfpipe skiing final on Saturday at X Games Aspen.