Shiffrin, the bitter face of Beijing: without a medal and rebuked

One of the toughest aspects of the sport. One that, in fact, should not exist. Under the cloak of success, in the midst of that divine halo that surrounds many elite athletes, people hide. Human beings, plain and simple. A truism that, no matter how many times it is repeated, is forgotten. Even in the present times, in which mental health has more impact than ever. The ruthless criticism, the false perception that athletes are constantly indebted to their fans, the intolerance of error. Everything goes on. In Beijing, as was the case in Tokyo, local athletes have been subject to the harshest scrutiny. Staying away from the hypothetical objectives, in his case, is branded as anti-patriotism, as an example.

Everything multiplies, of course, when the expectations generated are maximum. The penalty for not reaching them is almost always greater than the promised heights. This has been the case for Mikaela Shiffrin at these Winter Olympics. Two-time Olympic champion, 116 podiums and 73 World Cup victories, the opportunity to be the most successful American skier (in the men’s and women’s categories) in the Olympics… All against her in her multiple falls. In Beijing, she has failed to complete three of her six scheduled tests. In the mixed team parallel slalom, he had the last chance to win a medal. The sixth was not the charm either. Gold for Austria, silver for Germany and bronze for Norway after beating, precisely, the world champion team, the United States. To Shiffrin.

A sports drama that, fueled by the most undesirable part of public opinion, ends up becoming personal. “Your time is up, back off”, “silly bitch, you can’t do the only thing you’re supposed to do well”, “you get what you deserve”, “arrogant”, “narcissistic”etc. These are just some of the messages Shiffrin received after her Olympic performances, shared by the athlete herself through her personal Twitter profile. Deplorable acts, often under the protection of anonymity, which are even more despicable when you delve into the life of the American athlete. Mikaela, at 26 years old, is an institution of alpine skiing. A relatively short trajectory boosted by a multitude of early successes, but which has already avoided withdrawal on more than one occasion. “I vomited before competing and it paralyzed me”has subsequently explained about the management of his early deeds.

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In 2020, he spent practically the whole year without competing. Added to the pandemic was an injury and the death of his father in a domestic accident. In 2022, Beijing presented itself as the perfect opportunity to resume his legendary path; but, for that very reason, it rose like a challenge that automatically revived ghosts from the past. “It’s rare that I have a career where I feel good. I can’t go to the Games and not feel pressure, nerves and discomfort.”, expressed before the Olympic event. Behind her, and with the messages previously exposed as the main reason, beyond the sporting misfortune, the situation does not seem destined to improve. “I am not disappointed. I have had many disappointments in these Games, but today is not one of them. Today is my favorite memory”expressed the American after the parallel slalom.

The world of sports, empathetically, comes to the step. Shiffrin idol and voice of mental health in Tokyo, Simone Biles was the first to raise her hand in support. the french skier Perrine Laffont, after receiving the same hatred in Beijing, has joined him. “No athlete should get these types of messages! These people have no idea all the sacrifices we make every day for our sport. All athletes should be supported and not shamed, because yes, I also received this type of message after of my ‘disappointing fourth place'”dedicates to “It’s the best possible way I could imagine to end the Games, skiing with such great teammates,” were Mikaela’s last words in China. Empathy, sports values, human warmth and common sense. The only formula. The champions always come back.

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