In a video released early Thursday morning, three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin announced she will return to Europe. The American has been at home grieving the loss of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, who died suddenly on Feb. 2.
Since that time, Mikaela Shiffrin has remained at home in Colorado and has now missed more than a month of the World Cup season. During her time away from the tour, Shiffrin has been training in Vail and Aspen.
While Shiffrin has not announced any definitive plans, her travel to Sweden indicates that the 24-year-old American has her sights set on a return to racing. That prospect is made a bit more complicated by the growing threat of the coronavirus and disruption to the World Cup calendar due to poor conditions in Europe.
This week’s scheduled tech series in Ofterschwang were nixed due to unfavorable conditions and will not be replaced. Simultaneously, World Cup Finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy are shrouded in uncertainty, as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through the Veneto region of Italy. An announcement regarding the fate of Finals is expected from the FIS on Friday.
At the time of her departure on Feb. 2, Shiffrin enjoyed leads in the World Cup overall, slalom, and super G standings. She was in second in downhill and GS.
During her absence, Shiffrin has inevitably lost ground on her competitors. Italian racer Frederica Brignone leads the overall with 1,378 points over Shiffrin, who currently sits in second place with 1,225 points, a gap of 153 points. In the slalom standings, Shiffrin was surpassed by Petra Vlhova, who now holds a mere 20-point lead over the American. And in the super G, Shiffrin has dropped back to seventh place, 174 points behind now-leader Corinne Suter.
According to a U.S. Ski Team spokeswoman, Shiffrin hopes to honor her father’s legacy with a return to racing, which could take place — at its earliest — March 12-14 in Are, Sweden. However, with uncertainty in Europe, decisions will be made on a day-to-day basis.