Mikaela Shiffrin gets new head coach in female pioneer Harjo

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The winner United States' Mikaela Shiffrin wears an hat with n. 87, the number of her World Cup victories, one more than ski great Ingemar Stenmark, after an alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom, in Are, Sweden, Saturday, March 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

SOLDEU – Two days after becoming the most successful World Cup skier in history, Mikaela Shiffrin marked her 28th birthday with the appointment of a new personal head coach on Monday in the hopes of getting “a fresh and new way of thinking” moving forward.

The U.S. ski team said Karin Harjo, a pioneer for female coaches in Alpine skiing who has served as head coach of Canada's women's team this winter, will take up the role in April and join Shiffrin for post-season training and an equipment testing camp.

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“I’m really looking forward to working with Karin again, this time more directly as my new head coach,” said Shiffrin, who split with her former coach Mike Day during the world championships one month ago.

The appointment comes after Shiffrin broke Ingemar Stenmark's long-standing World Cup record by earning her 87th career race win on Saturday.

Harjo, whose family roots are Norwegian, had spells as an assistant coach with the U.S. team from 2015-22. In 2016 she became the first woman to design the gate-setting for a World Cup slalom or giant slalom race.

This season Harjo became just the second female head coach of a World Cup team and oversaw first career wins for Laurence St-Germain and Valérie Grenier. St-Germain won gold in slalom at the world championships to edge Shiffrin into silver in the American's favorite event.

“I believe (Harjo) can add a huge benefit to my program in the coming years and will provide a fresh and new way of thinking as we move forward,” Shiffrin said in a statement. "I’m also excited to further highlight female coaches and staff within my group with Karin working alongside my mom and physio Regan (Dewhirst).”

Shiffrin’s historic World Cup season — including a fifth overall title and a record-tying 20th career win in giant slalom — ends next weekend at the finals meeting in Soldeu, Andorra. ___

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