Mikaela Shiffrin’s time at the world championships has been somewhat turbulent, but the unexpected exit of her longtime coach and a mistaken protest against her weren’t enough to keep the 27-year-old from making history Thursday in Meribel, France.
After winning her first giant slalom title, Shiffrin became the most decorated skier in modern world Alpine skiing championships history, with 13 medals.
— U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team (@usskiteam) February 16, 2023
With seven of those medals being gold, Shiffrin is no stranger to making history, but she admitted that Thursday’s run wasn’t easy given the circumstances.
"My whole body went numb down there. … So much stress,” she said on France TV after the win. “I thought that maybe you just threw everything away, or maybe you’re going to go harder now."
Shiffrin led by 36 hundredths at the last intermediate split, but a late slip between gates almost cost her the edge.
“I don’t even know how to explain it, but my heart is just going crazy. I feel like I’m going to faint,” she added.
Her coach of seven years, Mike Day, left suddenly after Shiffrin told him she wanted to change her staff at the end of the season just two days before her milestone win.
“Coaches are important, but Shiffrin is still Shiffrin,” super-G champion Marta Bassino said via the Associated Press after finishing fifth.
Day worked with Shiffrin for 65 of her 85 World Cup wins. She is currently in the midst of a historic season on that circuit. After she broke Lindsey Vonn’s record of 82 World Cup wins among women and is now within one victory of Ingemar Stenmark’s overall mark of 86 wins. She’ll have a chance to break that record in March.
All of those accomplishments aside, Shiffrin used her energy post-win Thursday to thank Day.
“One thing I really want to say is just, ‘thank you,’ to Mike for seven years of — I can’t even say helping me — he’s been such an integral part of my team and being there to support me through some of the most incredible moments in my career and some of the most challenging moments of my career and also my life,” an emotional Shiffrin said.
She has one final event remaining at this year’s world championships, the slalom on Saturday.