Skiing’s World Cup season will soon be underway and Shiffrin knows her team is taking precautions, but is on edge about whether everyone else she meets is.
“It’s a little frustrating to feel like you have to argue your way through every single day about why, you know, I’m wearing my mask,” said Shiffrin.
“I’m taking care of my side of things,” she adds, before reflecting on how she feels when she meets people she doesn’t know.
“Can you just stand back, please? Can you just give me some space? You’re not hurting anybody by just giving me some space. So that kind of thing, it’s like a constant battle.”
Shiffrin has won 66 World Cup races and sits fourth in the all-time list behind Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).
After eight agonising months, the 25-year-old Shiffrin is still coming to terms with the loss — and now, more than ever, missing his constant, reassuring presence on the tour.
“When we’re in Europe we’d normally be basically talking to my dad every day”, she said. “Even if he wasn’t here, he was still our safety net. So right now, neither my mom and I, we just don’t feel safe. That definitely has to do with a pandemic and just general frustrations with people not seeming to get it.”
‘Wake up, people!’
She’s not been reassured by the events unfolding back home in the US.
On October 2, US President Donald Trump was hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19, though he returned to the White House on Monday.
“I think it’s like, this enormous, undeniable blaring signal of ‘wake up, people!’ This is happening and it’s not going to go away if you ignore it. So, snap to it. Take it seriously. Events with no masks? Probably not a great idea.”
November 3 will be the second time Shiffrin has watched the US elections from overseas. She admits to being a little disconnected from the process four years ago and not fully understanding the importance of her vote. But not anymore.
“It’s not only important for our nation, but it’s also important for the individual people who live in it. And I’m excited to vote. I think that’s a big step in my ability to stand strong for things I believe. For me, that’s unity, inclusion and the belief in science and medicine.”
“This election is as much as voting for values and like basic moral character as it is for voting for policies, because right now with the way everything has been handled, it’s like there’s no place for policy until you get the values straight,” added Shiffrin.
It’s with these values in mind that the Shiffrin family recently helped create a fund for winter sports athletes — in tribute to her father.
“I’m really proud of the Resiliency Fund,’ said Shiffrin. “It started not too long after my dad’s accident when people were coming to us asking about where they could donate money and what charities my dad was interested in,” she added.
“Six donors came to us with the offer to match $1.5 million. And our job was to go out and find the other $1.5 million. And now we’re really close. It’s been amazing to see people giving to this fund and also spreading the message of resiliency during this time.”
The past months have taught her, she admits, that resilience isn’t just about physical toughness, and that the future will always be uncertain.
“I didn’t think that resiliency was going to be as big of part of my life as it has become. And I always thought of it as something, you know, if you have a physical injury, then you have to go through the challenges of coming back and that takes a lot of strength.
“But now I know it has to do with weakness as well. And, just not giving in. Just putting one foot in front of the other, because sometimes you don’t feel strong,” adds a smiling Shiffrin. “And that’s perfectly OK.”