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Caught in grief and in pandemic: Mikaela Shiffrin says Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis is a wake-up call for all

Double Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin chats to CNN about Covid-19 and the unexpected and tragic loss of her father earlier this year.

Posted: Oct 7, 2020 10:30 PM
Updated: Oct 7, 2020 10:30 PM

Mikaela Shiffrin knew returning to ski racing in Europe in the midst of a pandemic -- after the tragic loss of her father in February-- would be tough. But not this tough.

"I guess it's not a very positive thing to say but I'm just kind of uncomfortable," Shiffrin told CNN Sport. "With everything that's happened over the past seven months, it's a little bit funky," she added, referring to how Covid-19 has changed everybody's lives.

Skiing's World Cup season will soon be underway and Shiffrin knows her team is taking precautions, but is on edge about whether everyone else she meets is.

"It's a little frustrating to feel like you have to argue your way through every single day about why, you know, I'm wearing my mask," said Shiffrin.

"I'm taking care of my side of things," she adds, before reflecting on how she feels when she meets people she doesn't know.

"Can you just stand back, please? Can you just give me some space? You're not hurting anybody by just giving me some space. So that kind of thing, it's like a constant battle."

READ: Grieving Shiiffrin grateful she saw her father in his final moments

Shiffrin has won 66 World Cup races and sits fourth in the all-time list behind Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).

She'd also been on course to win a fourth straight World Cup overall title in February. Then her father, Jeff Shiffrin, had a sudden accident while at home in Colorado. She abandoned the tour and rushed home to be by his side. Her father died shortly afterwards in hospital at the age of 65. Mikaela, his son, Taylor and wife, Eileen were by his side.

After eight agonising months, the 25-year-old Shiffrin is still coming to terms with the loss -- and now, more than ever, missing his constant, reassuring presence on the tour.

"When we're in Europe we'd normally be basically talking to my dad every day", she said. "Even if he wasn't here, he was still our safety net. So right now, neither my mom and I, we just don't feel safe. That definitely has to do with a pandemic and just general frustrations with people not seeming to get it."

READ: Shiffrin wins reindeer, names it after Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark

'Wake up, people!'

She's not been reassured by the events unfolding back home in the US.

On October 2, US President Donald Trump was hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19, though he returned to the White House on Monday.

It is not known how or when Trump caught the infection that resulted in a positive test, but the string of people who attended in late September theunveiling in the Rose Garden of his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett -- where few guests wore masks and social distancing was absent -- has grown.

"I think it's like, this enormous, undeniable blaring signal of 'wake up, people!' This is happening and it's not going to go away if you ignore it. So, snap to it. Take it seriously. Events with no masks? Probably not a great idea."

November 3 will be the second time Shiffrin has watched the US elections from overseas. She admits to being a little disconnected from the process four years ago and not fully understanding the importance of her vote. But not anymore.

"It's not only important for our nation, but it's also important for the individual people who live in it. And I'm excited to vote. I think that's a big step in my ability to stand strong for things I believe. For me, that's unity, inclusion and the belief in science and medicine."

Some 7.4 million Americans -- roughly one in 44 -- have been infected with the coronavirus in the world's worst-affected country. Over 210,000 people have died in the US from coronavirus.

"This election is as much as voting for values and like basic moral character as it is for voting for policies, because right now with the way everything has been handled, it's like there's no place for policy until you get the values straight," added Shiffrin.

READ: Shiffrin on learning to ignore social media 'haters'

It's with these values in mind that the Shiffrin family recently helped create a fund for winter sports athletes -- in tribute to her father.

With the help of six generous donors, the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund was launched ahead of this season with the goal of helping winter athletes who've been financially impacted by the effects of the pandemic.

"I'm really proud of the Resiliency Fund,' said Shiffrin. "It started not too long after my dad's accident when people were coming to us asking about where they could donate money and what charities my dad was interested in," she added.

"Six donors came to us with the offer to match $1.5 million. And our job was to go out and find the other $1.5 million. And now we're really close. It's been amazing to see people giving to this fund and also spreading the message of resiliency during this time."

The past months have taught her, she admits, that resilience isn't just about physical toughness, and that the future will always be uncertain.

"I didn't think that resiliency was going to be as big of part of my life as it has become. And I always thought of it as something, you know, if you have a physical injury, then you have to go through the challenges of coming back and that takes a lot of strength.

"But now I know it has to do with weakness as well. And, just not giving in. Just putting one foot in front of the other, because sometimes you don't feel strong," adds a smiling Shiffrin. "And that's perfectly OK."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 291222

Reported Deaths: 6577
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19470226
Hinds18555383
Harrison16385273
Rankin12498260
Jackson12401216
Lee9635160
Madison9353193
Jones7836144
Forrest7055135
Lauderdale6735225
Lowndes5989137
Lamar579379
Lafayette5688113
Washington5124128
Bolivar4567120
Oktibbeha438091
Panola424092
Warren4091113
Pearl River4070127
Pontotoc406066
Marshall397992
Monroe3971125
Union391372
Neshoba3746166
Lincoln343799
Hancock337773
Leflore3346118
Sunflower315785
Tate299172
Pike297792
Scott291367
Alcorn289760
Itawamba288471
Yazoo282662
Tippah275265
Copiah273357
Coahoma272265
Simpson269278
Prentiss267158
Leake250870
Wayne250140
Marion249478
Covington246277
Grenada244576
Adams232374
George229545
Newton222551
Winston220174
Tishomingo210965
Jasper210343
Attala205669
Chickasaw200250
Holmes181470
Clay177348
Stone170729
Tallahatchie169039
Clarke167671
Calhoun155327
Smith151131
Yalobusha141936
Greene126333
Walthall123040
Noxubee122429
Montgomery120537
Perry120133
Lawrence118420
Carroll117123
Amite110632
Webster108629
Jefferson Davis99831
Tunica97923
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91226
Kemper89222
Quitman76614
Franklin75319
Choctaw69316
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson60827
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 488973

Reported Deaths: 9660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson703321342
Mobile35725716
Madison32088437
Tuscaloosa23913404
Montgomery22369481
Shelby21714209
Baldwin19554263
Lee14827147
Morgan13529243
Etowah13091309
Calhoun13063281
Marshall11197202
Houston10019255
Limestone9303130
Elmore9283179
Cullman8856176
St. Clair8747214
Lauderdale8541209
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7424161
Walker6466240
Jackson6450101
Autauga614384
Blount6058125
Colbert5973118
Coffee522299
Dale4606106
Russell400530
Franklin396575
Covington3918105
Chilton380096
Escambia375970
Tallapoosa3533138
Clarke342348
Dallas3385139
Chambers3382102
Pike292471
Lawrence280685
Marion277492
Winston244563
Marengo243454
Bibb243259
Geneva238168
Pickens223453
Barbour208450
Hale208064
Fayette198755
Butler194865
Henry181741
Cherokee175737
Monroe165538
Randolph161240
Washington155832
Crenshaw143052
Clay142554
Macon140344
Cleburne136139
Lamar130632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120525
Bullock116033
Conecuh106423
Perry104927
Sumter98231
Greene86732
Coosa86323
Choctaw54723
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