Drama about Kilde and comeback: The turbulent weeks of ski queen Shiffrin

Drama about Kilde and comeback
The turbulent weeks of ski queen Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin’s nerves are severely strained: first she has to worry about the health of her boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, then she falls herself and finally makes a fabulous comeback. The season finale is no longer about winning for them.

She is grateful, says Mikaela Shiffrin. For the support she received. Perhaps, looking back, she is also responsible for some of the experiences she had to gain. For once, the season finale in Saalbach-Hinterglemm is not about new titles and records for the most successful ski racer in history. The four remaining crystal balls will be divided among others in Austria from the weekend onwards, and the Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami may even win them all.

But that’s okay for Shiffrin. The 28-year-old has had nerve-wracking weeks. The fall of her partner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde in Wengen was a shock – for her and the entire ski world. Almost two weeks later, Shiffrin got it herself on the descent from Cortina d’Ampezzo. She then had to take a break for around a month and a half. She returned last Sunday. Her dominant victory in Are, through which she won the overall Slalom World Cup for the eighth time, was a demonstration of power – and the temporary end to an emotional rollercoaster ride.

At Kilde it was a matter of “life and death”

Shiffrin says she thought “Holy shit” when she saw Kilde crash into the safety net at high speed on January 13th. It was only later that many people realized how badly the Norwegian had actually injured himself. He had lost a lot of blood and nerves and muscles in his leg were damaged. According to Shiffrin, the first hours after the accident were a matter of “life and death.” She immediately rushed to Kilde’s hospital. The pictures of his lower leg cut open by a ski that the downhill dominator published in recent years were drastic.

Kilde was confined to a wheelchair for weeks. It was one of the “biggest challenges of my life,” he recently reported. Kilde is now running again. At least a little. Things are progressing, says Shiffrin. “But it’s a long road.” On which she accompanies her partner. Which, as she says, costs a lot of energy – her, but above all of course: him. The most important thing in their relationship is that “we understand each other’s feelings,” explains Shiffrin in her usual open manner. She may have become more aware of this than ever during the forced break together.

Shiffrin begrudges Gut-Behrami

Shiffrin herself was not nearly as seriously injured as Kilde when she fell in Cortina on January 26th. Having to keep postponing her comeback afterwards tormented her, says the 96-time World Cup winner. At some point she had to realize that the train had left the overall Alpine World Cup. She might have won it for the sixth time this season. She might have broken the mark of 100 World Cup successes this winter. It’s no use for Shiffrin to think about it anymore.

But it doesn’t seem to bother her anymore. Shiffrin says she loves watching Gut-Behrami ski. Their career is “incredible”. Gut-Behrami has been at the top for many years and has already achieved 90 podium places in the World Cup. She shone in Shiffrin’s absence and is very close to her second overall World Cup victory after 2016. The 32-year-old is reaching for the crystal balls in the giant slalom, downhill and super-G.

For Shiffrin, the season finale is all about having fun. After the wild ride through emotions, this is probably worth more to her than anything else this time.

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