May 15, 2024
Mikaela Shiffrin reveals how she's been inspired by tennis star Iga Świątek

Mikaela Shiffrin reveals how she’s been inspired by tennis star Iga Świątek

But that hasn’t stopped ski star Mikaela Shiffrin and 2020 French Open winner Iga Świątek bonding over what it takes to succeed in their respective professions.
The 19-year-old Świątek has said that Shiffrin is one of her greatest inspirations. And speaking to CNN Sport’s Christina Macfarlane ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday, Shiffrin stressed the importance of women supporting each other.

“Any time an athlete from another sport recognizes an athlete from a different sport, I think that’s really cool because … it just brings more connection into the world of sports and it’s not one sport against each other. We’re all athletes and we get how hard it is to get to the top in our own sport and for every other athlete out there,” said Shiffrin.

“I watched her at the French Open and have been kind of keeping tabs ever since. And of course, I went straight to her Instagram page and I was stalking all of her workouts. I’m like, well, maybe I should do that,” added Shiffin, who was interviewed by CNN Sport ahead of American’s World Cup in Jasna, Slovakia, on the weekend.

“It’s just how fulfilled she’s making herself and doing the sport and working as hard as she does. And just that’s the most important thing. I hope she’s able to kind of hold on to that. And she seems like she already has that attitude. But it’s tough to keep that going, especially when you’re already starting to have success.”

Could we see a Shiffrin vs. Świątek tennis match on the cards? The Olympic champion isn’t ruling it out.

“Maybe someday we could play tennis because I’m not that good, but that would be really fun. I’ve always wanted to see what it feels like to try to return like a real tennis serve. And most likely, that means that I won’t even hit the ball.”

On Saturday, Shiffrin edged closer to the all-time World Cup win record within a individual discipline, held by Ingemar Stenmark.

Taking first place in Jasna, Slovakia, it was Shiffrin’s 45th World Cup slalom win, and places her just one behind the 46 career victories achieved by Stenmark in the giant slalom.

Shiffrin could break the record by the end of the current ski season, with another three slalom races to go.

Mikaela Shiffrin at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina.

‘The hardest year of my life’

In a journey that will feel familiar to many, Shiffrin is trying to find her way back from what she says has been “the hardest year of my life.”
A gold medal winner at both the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, Shiffrin lost her father when he died suddenly at the family’s Colorado home in February 2020.

She says it led to a period of “survival mode” and her questioning everything in her life.

“I’m constantly thinking, is this what I’m supposed to be doing?,” Shiffin said. “Or what is going to make me happy?”

Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. on the podium during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

“It doesn’t feel like I exist if you don’t have something to smile about. And for me and my mom and brother, it’s been hard to find things to smile about.”

After a time out from the sport, Shiffrin returned to the slopes in October, and last month in Cortina won her record breaking sixth World Championship — bringing some degree of joy back into her life after many months of grieving.

“It felt a little bit like a milestone at not only my career, but in my life over the last year and a half, just getting back to a point where I could smile way more than I have for a long time,” she said.

“I felt like the whole experience in Cortina reminded me how much there is to live for even outside of winning medals.”