Mikaela Shiffrin Unexpectedly Parts Ways With Head Coach in the Midst of World Championships
It’s not the first time the American superstar has made big staffing changes in the middle of competition.
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For Mikaela Shiffrin, it seems major competitions are the time to make big decisions about her coaching team. The U.S. Ski Team today announced that Shiffrin is parting ways with longtime coach Mike Day, who’s been by her side throughout her record-breaking 2023 season, including on Feb. 8, when she won silver in the World Championship super-G.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the coaching change went into effect immediately, with Day reportedly making his way back to the U.S. after learning about the decision.
“Mikaela wants to do something different going forward,” U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “And she informed Mike and Mike decided to go home. It’s a shock for me that he took off.”
According to reports, Shiffrin informed Day that she planned to take a new direction with her staff at the end of the season.
“After working with Mike Day for seven seasons, I’ve decided to move forward with new leadership on my team for the next phase of my career,” Shiffrin said in a statement released by the U.S. Ski Team. “I want to thank Mike and acknowledge all of his work and dedication over the last several years.”
It’s not the first time Shiffrin has made significant changes to her coaching staff mid-season. Last year, she dismissed longtime coach and trainer Jeff Lackie just three weeks before she was set to compete in the Beijing Olympics. Lackie had been a member of Shiffrin’s coaching staff for six years.
Shiffrin has not yet shared what new direction she’s taking with her staff, or who will replace Day as head coach. Team Shiffrin still includes her mother, Eileen Shiffrin, as well as assistant coach Mark Mitter, who joined her staff at the start of this season. Shiffrin, the superstar on the U.S. Ski Team, has always had her own personal coaching staff that operates separately from the larger U.S. Ski Team and its discipline-specific coaching teams and athletes.
Related: Mikaela Shiffrin has many titles; now she’s adding “team player” to the list
Shiffrin will now continue her World Championship run in Courchevel-Meribel, France, without Day, competing in the women’s giant slalom on Feb. 16 followed by the slalom on Feb. 18. Winning both events—her specialities—would mean ending this World Championships, which has been punctuated by both highs and lows, on a positive note.
Shiffrin got off to a shaky start in France after straddling a gate in the slalom portion of the alpine combined, an event she was expected to win. Then she dismissed speculation that she was on track for a repeat Beijing performance by grabbing silver in the super-G just two days after her disqualification.
But on the heels of that race, Shiffrin was targeted by a small protest from environmentalists who believed, mistakenly, that she was traveling by helicopter between her off-site training base in Orcieres, only a 40-minute drive from the World Championship venues in Courchevel. That rumor spread at the same time that Shiffrin’s name was attached to the open letter sent by more than 300 professional skiers demanding FIS take action on climate change.
Needless to say, it’s been a rollercoaster of a World Championship for Team Shiffrin.