Mikaela Shiffrin steps up European preparations ahead of new World Cup season in Olympic year

The double Olympic champion, whose 2020/21 season was affected by a troublesome back injury, has arrived in Europe for training after spending time with U.S. Paralympic hopefuls in Colorado.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The new FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season is less than two months away, and double Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin is among the skiers stepping up preparations in Europe.

Shiffrin and her U.S. teammates such as Nina O'Brien have joined a host of Europe-based skiers at the Saas-Fee resort village in Switzerland to get some time on European snow.

The American, who suffered recurring back troubles last year, is looking to add to her career 106 World Cup podiums this season ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

However, Shiffrin will have to manage her body to do so, as she acknowledged towards the end of last season.

"We're definitely going to take that into account going into next season, not only for the Olympics, but just for my longevity in my career as a whole," she admitted then. "For sure the Olympics, it's a target, but a bigger target would be to say, not only can I compete at the Olympics, but I can just compete regularly."

Shiffrin training in Colorado previously

After finishing the 2020/21 season fourth overall in the World Cup standings and second in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines, as well as winning four medals including a gold at the World Championships, Shiffrin returned to the practice slopes in May.

The 26-year-old spent her summer training with the U.S. ski team at Mammoth Mountain in Colorado, before taking time out to be with boyfriend and fellow ski racer Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

More recently, Shiffrin trained with skiers hoping to make the U.S. Paralympic Team for the Beijing 2022 Games, including her childhood friend Thomas Walsh.

At PyeongChang 2018, the pair spoke to Olympics.com about their friendship.

New ski season approaching

Meanwhile, Kilde and his fellow Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud, Atle Lie McGrath, and Lucas Braathen, are all also currently in training at Saas-Fee, as is defending World Cup Crystal Globe champion Alexis Pinturault of France.

The new World Cup season begins in Soelden, Austria, as it has done traditionally since 2000 (except a weather cancellation in 2006), with giant slalom races for both men and women on 23 and 24 October.

After a year away from North American slopes, the Cirque Blanc has stops scheduled in Lake Louise, Canada (23-28 November for men and 30 November-5 December for women); Killington, USA (27-28 November for the women); and Beaver Creek, USA (1-5 December for the men).

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics alpine skiing competition is scheduled from 6-19 February 2022.