Shiffrin skips season-opener with back issue, returns to US

Sports

FILE – In this Dec. 7, 2019, file photo, Mikaela Shiffrin races down the course during the women’s World Cup downhill ski race, in Lake Louise, Alberta. The governing body for ski racing announced it will skip the traditional World Cup swing through North America to remain in Europe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The women’s side will miss stops in Killington, Vermont, and Lake Louise, Alberta. The men’s tour won’t race in Beaver Creek, Colorado, or make a separate trip to Lake Louise. The venues are slated to be back on the calendar in 2021-22, according to the International Ski Federation. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

VIENNA (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin postponed her return to World Cup skiing for at least another month on Friday, pulling out of next week’s season-opening giant slalom in Austria with a back issue.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time overall World Cup champion, who hasn’t raced in nearly nine months, said she tweaked her back while skiing last week.

“I have been advised to sit Soelden out to let my back heal so I can race the rest of the season,” Shiffrin wrote on Instagram.

The U.S. ski team added that ”Mikaela will plan to head back to the States to rest and recover, and her return to competition is TBD.”

The next races on the World Cup calendar are two parallel slaloms on Nov. 13-14 in another Austrian resort, Lech.

Shiffrin has struggled with back issues before but never sat out a World Cup race for that reason.

“Having started in Soelden for the last eight years straight, this feels… really frustrating and strange (for lack of better words). Luckily, this injury will heal and I will be back in the start soon,” said Shiffrin, who finished on the podium in Soelden five times in the past six years, winning the race in 2014.

“Okay, maybe my countdown has been delayed, but the big countdown is ON and I can’t wait for it to start,” she added.

Shiffrin has not raced since picking up her 66th career victory at a super-G in Bulgaria on Jan. 26.

First, she returned home to the United States and took a five-week break following the death of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, in early February. And when she planned to come back at races in Sweden in mid-March, the remainder of the season was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Federica Brignone ending Shiffrin’s thee-year reign as overall champion.

Earlier this week, Shiffrin said she was wondering how much time she has left in ski racing, questioning how long all the traveling and being away from home will still be worth it.

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