In December 2020, Mikaela Shiffrin made an emotional return to the podium in Courchevel, France at the FIS World Cup. 

After heavy snowfall on the Saturday before race day, the course was watered down and deemed unfit for racers for the previous giant slalom race on the Sunday. The postponement left Monday’s giant slalom with a hard and fast track, but that didn’t stop Mikalea from taking her first World Cup win in almost a year. 

It was also Mikaela’s first win after her father’s sudden passing – making for a bittersweet moment. Emotions were high after Mikaela finished the race, sitting on her skis and hugging her legs until she got off the podium to run into her mother’s arms, and crying through her post-race interview. 

“It was a pretty incredible day, obviously,” said Mikaela through tears. “But I’m pretty sad. I mean, it’s a bit bittersweet. But it’s pretty special.”

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Mikaela  won the first run, but only by seven-hundredths, so she knew she had to keep up her stamina to push through a strong second run to take out the win. It had been over 300 days since her last giant slalom race, so she wasn’t sure she was able to do it. “I didn’t really know if I could come back to this level. It’s a lot of energy to focus like that and to put the toughness and strength in your skiing,” said Mikaela. “I’ve done it—I used to do it all the time—but I’m at a different place and didn’t know if I could do it again.”

But Mikaela’s focus and determination allowed her to take the win by .82 seconds – her first victory since January 2020. Italy’s Federica Brignone finished second, and French skier Tessa Worley came in third place. 

After the race, Mikaela commended her family, teammates, coaches, and rivals.

“It’s a really big testament to my coaches and my mom and everybody around me—my whole team, my family,” said Mikaela. “I definitely didn’t ski alone today. I had a lot of strength from a lot of people to help me get down.”