The sudden death of Mikaela Shiffrin's father last year had the superstar Olympian questioning whether she would ever ski competitively again.
With Thursday marking 100 days before the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Shiffrin shared on TODAY how much she struggled with finding the motivation to continue after her father, Jeff Shiffrin, died at 65 from a head injury suffered in an accident in Colorado.
"I wondered if it was really worth it," she told TODAY co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. "There was a really long time that I didn’t really feel like it was worth it to care about anything, so it seemed like I’m not going to go ski race again because the most fundamental thing of an athlete is that you have to care about your sport and you have to care about doing well at your sport, and I just didn’t."
Shiffrin has already put together an incredible career at only 26 with two Olympic gold medals and one silver, which makes her "the most decorated U.S. alpine skier ever," and three overall World Cup titles. She already has won 70 World Cup races, the second-most all time by any female skier behind only the 82 by retired legend Lindsey Vonn.
Mikaela Shiffrin honors late father with initiative to support athletesSept. 22, 202005:50
She considered walking away from all of it after losing one of her biggest supporters. Her father was an anesthesiologist and an avid photographer who could often be seen taking pictures of his daughter on the medal podium after races.
"I just thought I don’t care about actually really anything in life," she said. "It’s been a long process to get that motivation and actually the feeling of caring back. A lot more good days than bad now, but it’s still difficult."
Following her father's death, Shiffrin shared a photo on Instagram of him with his camera, writing that her family was "heartbroken beyond comprehension."
Shiffrin said on TODAY his loss is "the most difficult thing" she has "ever survived."
Over a year and a half after losing him, Shiffrin is right back to her winning ways. She won her 70th World Cup race last weekend when she took the women's giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
She shared on TODAY that she has the lofty goal of competing in all six alpine skiing events at the Winter Olympics in February.
Shiffrin has also now reached a place where she can speak about the devastation of losing her father.
"It’s OK to talk about it," she said. "Over the last couple years it’s been important to talk about, and a lot of people actually seem to be able to relate to that on some level because aside from the pandemic, everybody’s dealing with something on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and there’s a lot of loss and grief and sadness out there, but there’s also a lot of strength and hope.
"And I think it’s important for us to all be able to connect on the more positive side of it."