Winter Olympics
YANQING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 07: Mikaela Shiffrin of Team United States falls during the Women's Giant ...

Mikaela Shiffrin’s Boyfriend Had The Best, Sweetest Response To Her Olympics DNF

He said everything that needed to be said.

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No matter who you are or what sport you’re competing in, being an athlete in the Olympics comes with a ton of pressure — which is why it’s so important to support athletes when they inevitably make mistakes, as humans do. When skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin faced disqualification from her two strongest events during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, she was reassured in the best way possible: Aleksander Kilde's post about Mikaela Shiffrin not finishing at the Olympics is so important, and here’s why.

Shiffrin, already a two-time Olympic gold medalist, stepped into the 2022 Games with high hopes. After all, she was competing to defend her gold status in her two best events, the Women’s Slalom and the Women’s Giant Slalom. However, after a fumbled turn during her first slalom race on Feb. 7, Shiffrin crashed out of the event early and earned a “did not finish” (DNF) score on her results sheet. After the initial upset, Shiffrin faced yet another disappointment when she was disqualified from her second slalom event on Feb. 9 for missing a gate.

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Following the mistake, Shiffrin skied off to the side of the course and sat down in the snow for a while. For her, the outcome was “heartbreaking,” per CBS. But while Shiffrin was visibly shaken, she had support from people all over the world, including from her partner and fellow Olympic athlete, Aleksander Kilde. On Feb. 9, he posted a photo of Shiffrin sitting to the side of the course with her head on her arms on Instagram, but the caption was perfect. “When you look at this picture you can make up so many statements, meanings and thoughts,” Kilde wrote. “Most of you probably look at it saying: ‘she has lost it’, ‘she can’t handle the pressure’ or ‘what happened?’… Which makes me frustrated, because all I see is a top athlete doing what a top athlete does!”

“The pressure we all put on individuals in the sports are enormous, so let’s give the same amount of support back.. It’s all about the balance and we are just normal human beings!! I love you Kaela,” he finished.

Shiffrin clearly appreciated it. She retweeted the U.S. Ski Team’s post about Kilde’s message to her, with some moving words. “My hope for every human is that they find another human who finds a way to love, understand, and heal them in the way @AleksanderKilde has done and continues to for me,” she wrote in a Feb. 9 tweet.

In addition to the external pressure, it’s clear Shiffrin was also putting a ton of pressure on herself to be successful: “I was pushing out of the start. I had full intentions of skiing as hard as I could,” she said, speaking on camera to CBS after the race concluded. “I slipped up a little bit on one turn and I just didn't give myself room to make any kind of error like that. I was planning to go on the most aggressive line, the most challenging line to ski.” Following the race, Shiffrin admitted she was still processing “a lot.” “Makes me second-guess the last 15 years,” she said. “Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality.”

This is not the first time an athlete has had to deal with the immense pressure of competing on a global stage. On July 27, 2021, world-class gymnast Simone Biles bowed out of the team gymnastics final for the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Even before the competition began, Biles admitted she had been “fighting all those demons” when trying to overcome the pressure to perform well. So, it’s no secret that even the best athletes need a break from all the mental and physical strain.

Although Shiffrin has been disqualified from her chances at gold in the Women’s Slalom and Giant Slalom events, she still has three more opportunities to earn her spot on the Olympic podium: the super-G, downhill, and combined events, which take place on Feb. 11, Feb. 15, and Feb. 17, respectively. While it remains unclear whether or not Shiffrin will choose to participate in these events, one thing is certain — she’s still a champion.