'Low expectations' for returning star US skier Shiffrin

Paris (AFP) –


US ski star Mikaela Shiffrin insisted she had "low expectations' as she prepares to return to action on the weekend almost 10 months after her last race in a season brought to an abrupt halt by Covid-19.

"I don't really have expectations, I keep expectations very low," Shiffrin told reporters ahead of Saturday's World Cup slalom in the Finnish resort of Levi.

"Given everything that has happened to all of us athletes and me personally, I can't have expectations.

"I want to ski well which includes skiing fast, and I know that I can."

Shiffrin, after three consecutive overall World Cup titles, gave up on her quest for a fourth last season after the sudden death of her father, handing Italian Federica Brignone a free pass for the women's big crystal globe.

The 25-year-old, with 66 World Cup victories to her name, then skipped this season's opener in Soelden with a sore back, something she said was part and parcel of alpine ski racing.

"It may be a bit of a struggle for the rest of my career," she admitted. "I use my body pretty hard.

"When I was training for Soelden, when I had the examinations the Austrian doctor said 'you could make it a lot worse if you try to ski race now. But if you take time to heal and come back with a proper progression, then you should be good to go'.

"It's not a problem that's going to go away, it's something I have to manage, and I had to manage the past few years."

Shiffrin also acknowledged the anger she felt at her father Jeff's unexpected death, at the age of 65, in early February.

"I am incredibly angry but not by the way the last season ended, but angry that my dad died," the double Olympic gold medallist said, adding however that she has "never been a person to be motivated by anger".

As for the coronavirus pandemic, Shiffrin said it had left her "emotionally tired".

"There has been a moment where I felt angry, but there is no place for anger right now. Why a pandemic? I didn't chose that, nobody had the choice to experience this. You don't get to choose those things."