Mikaela Shiffrin to skip World Cup ski races in Andorra to allow injured left knee more time to heal

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United States' Mikaela Shiffrin concentrates ahead of an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill race, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Shiffrin crashed into the safety nets after losing control landing a jump during a World Cup downhill on Friday. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

American ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin will skip giant slalom and slalom races this weekend in Andorra to give her knee more time to mend.

Shiffrin, who’s chasing her sixth overall World Cup title this season, was hurt in a crash nearly two weeks ago during a downhill event at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Although she avoided major damage to her left knee, she said she’s dealing with an MCL sprain along with a sprain of the tibiofibular ligament. She added that she continues to recover from a bone bruise she suffered at the start of the season.

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The 28-year-old from Colorado doesn’t have a timetable for a return, but won't rush back. She's focused on a rehab program to strengthen the knee. Shiffrin currently leads the overall standings by 95 points over Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland — a margin that could be eclipsed this weekend.

“I really want to do this right,” Shiffrin said Wednesday of her recovery. “Of course, there’s a lot at stake this season and I feel that. But I also feel like the next few seasons there’s just a lot of opportunity. There’s a lot of important racing coming up in the next few seasons, and I want to be firing on all cylinders for those.

“That’s really important to me, to do this process right. And when I am able to get back to racing that I’m able to do it strong and securely and go for it.”

Shiffrin, who has a record 95 World Cup wins over her career, crashed into the safety net at high speed on Jan. 26 at the course which will be used for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

It’s been an injury-marred year for several of the top names on the World Cup circuit. Italian downhill ski racer Sofia Goggia crashed earlier this week in training and broke two bones in her right leg, ending her season. Other racers who've been injured include Petra Vlhova, Alexis Pinturault, Corinne Suter and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the Norwegian standout who’s the partner of Shiffrin.

Kilde recently called for better World Cup race-day schedules to protect athletes, a thought that Shiffrin echoed on Instagram in a post Wednesday.

“Yes, this is ski racing, and yes — we choose to take the risk every time we push from the start gate,” Shiffrin wrote. “That said, the amount of injuries (especially among the top athletes) this year has been staggering. A lot has been said about it, and I absolutely agree with those who have asked that we take a better look at the demands on top athletes. … both from a race calendar perspective as well the schedule with evening programs.

“I absolutely believe that fatigue at this point in the season plays a role in the injuries we have seen lately, including my own.”

Shiffrin has vowed to take her recovery at a steady pace.

“To be honest, it’s going to be really dictated by how my knee and how things react to the higher loads and to our schedule as well," Shiffrin said.

She said she's not yet at the point where she can withstand the forces of a slalom turn. She currently leads the discipline over the injured Vlhova by 125 points and 228 over Lena Duerr.

“Every day, the pain gets better,” Shiffrin said. "My motion gets a little bit more solid, smooth, consistent. It’s just managing all of that together and trying to load as much as I can but not overload.”


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