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Shiffrin at a loss to explain Beijing disappointment

file photo: fis alpine ski world cup mikaela shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin of the US

Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin has opened up about the mental health issues she suffered since the death of her father and says she is still unable to explain how she came away from this year’s Beijing Winter Games without a medal.

The 27-year-old American detailed in a lengthy and deeply personal essay on the The Players Tribune the extent of her grief at the loss of her father and how it still intruded into her life on a daily basis.

Expanding on the subject of mental health, the multiple world champion broached the subject of her disappointing form in Beijing, where she came nowhere near a medal despite competing in all disciplines.

“People always ask me, ‘What happened in Beijing?’,” she wrote. “They want some kind of answer. And I genuinely don’t have one.

“I could give you the media answer that I always give. I could put on a brave face and tell you some generic thing. But the real truth is… I don’t know.

“It’s two minutes of your life. Two minutes, on a random day. You go down the hill. You try to go fast. You try not to make mistakes. Sometimes, you win the gold, like I did. Sometimes, you fail, like I did.”

Shiffrin said she did not want to ski, eat or sleep after her father’s death in an accident in February 2020, likening the loss to “an injury in your soul”.

She won the overall World Cup title in March following her Beijing disappointment, but said that did not mean that all her personal issues had suddenly disappeared.

“People would say things to me like, “Mikaela, now that you’re in a much better place…” she added.

“And I never said it out loud, but I would always think: ‘Am I’?

“We equate winning with being okay, and failure with being not okay. The real truth is that I’m neither okay nor not okay. It really depends on the day, and it has almost nothing to do with how fast I came down a mountain.”

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