CRANS-MONTANA, SWITZERLAND – The slalom queen is back and raring to go after a frustrating two months out with injury.
Mikaela Shiffrin even admits to feeling “jittery” as she prepares to throw herself back into World Cup racing on Monday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland — her first race since tearing a ligament in her right knee in December.
“I’m feeling good, a little tired from traveling, but good,” Shiffrin said in a phone interview with AP on Friday. “I trained with some of the German girls today and just being able to train with other girls feels so good. I’ve been training on my own so just to be back with the girls now feels like I’m already back in the thick of it.”
Shiffrin, who turns 21 next month, won two slaloms this season — both in Aspen, Colorado, and both by big margins — before a training mishap in Sweden two months ago interrupted her season.
But she is aiming to be back to her best right from the outset.
“I hope so, that’s kind of what I’m coming to figure out,” Shiffrin said. “I feel like myself, I feel normal, but you never know. In some ways I feel like I haven’t missed anything but in other ways I’ve missed two months. Even today with the girls there was a little bit of jitters. At the beginning I thought, ‘oh my gosh I’m nervous.’ But when I don’t know how I stack up, I’m always a bit jittery.”
However, the three-time defending champion believes those additional nerves will have disappeared by the time she plants her ski poles in the starting gate Monday.
“I’ll be nervous, I’m always a little bit nervous,” Shiffrin said. “I’ll feel the pressure for sure, but not an external pressure or anything, but just something will be there.
“That’s normal for me. I always say the day that I don’t care, is the day that (it) will be time to quit.”
Shiffrin even feels her time off could act as an advantage.
“I’m coming back fresh, it feels like it’s the start of the season,” she said. “I know normally at this point I really don’t feel fresh, so that might help. Hopefully traveling doesn’t affect my energy too much. I’m expecting to attack the course. I guess I can be competitive. Sometimes you don’t know until you get out there.”