Alpine skiing the world cup continues in Kittilä Levi this weekend with two women’s slalom.
This time, especially the first race on Saturday, there is exceptional international interest, as the biggest star of the sport, the American Mikaela Shiffrin returns to Levi from the longest competitive break of his career.
Shiffrin is only 25 years old but has achieved practically everything possible in alpine skiing. He has, among other things, two Olympic victories and five world championships.
Back Shiffrin has a competition break of about ten months, or 300 days. He last competed on January 26 this year and took the 66th World Cup victory of his career, according to FIS statistics. The sport at the time was super grand slalom.
Shiffrin then interrupted his season because his father died at home as a result of an accident in Colorado.
After a five-week hiatus, Shiffrin was scheduled to compete in the World Cup finals in March, but was canceled due to a corona pandemic.
This season’s World Cup began in October with the traditional slalom in Sölden, Austria, but from there Shiffrin had to be sidelined due to back problems.
Last in times, Shiffrin has only practiced sledding because of his back, where he has achieved most of his value medals and World Cup race wins.
“I hope this is a positive experience. I don’t mean I hope to win, but hopefully it will be a positive experience to be a race shooter again, and hopefully it will move forward, ”Shiffrin said on Thursday in Levi in an international remote interview, according to news agency AP.
According to Shiffrin, the break in the competition has not felt very long.
“Spring, summer and fall, the whole period since my previous race has been the most stressful time of my life. It feels like racing is a departure for a vacation. I am so grateful that I am here. “
When the pandemic limited training, Shiffrin, who earned millions in his career, studied finance, taxation, and accounting to keep the family’s business going. Those things had been the responsibility of his father.
During the corona, Shiffrin also had time to practice singing, as the attached video reveals.
Shiffrin said Levi was “angry” that his father had died.
“And I’m angry that I feel alone most days. On the other hand I am incredibly grateful that my mother is with me so often. If I learned anything from these 300 days, then that’s just having to accept what life gives. It may not taste good, but it should be swallowed. ”
World Cup Shiffrin, who has won the overall competition three times, has competed in Levi seven times and taken four wins. The first start in Levi at the age of only 17 in 2012 brought third place. At that time, ranked second Tanja Poutiainen.
“Tanja has been one of my role models for a long time,” Shiffrin said a year later after reaching Levi for his first victory.
This time, Shiffrin can’t properly define what to expect from himself.
“I try to keep expectations really low, but my standard for lowering is high. I want to count well, and that means counting fast. ”
Finland is represented in Levi by a group of young people, including Kia-Emilia Hakala, Riikka Honkanen, Rosa Pohjolainen and Julia Toiviainen.
Source: AP Yle shows Levi’s competitions live.