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Mikaela Shiffrin gets new head coach, an Alpine skiing trailblazer

Mikaela Shiffrin

ARE, SWEDEN - MARCH 10: Mikaela Shiffrin of Team United States takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom on March 10, 2023 in Are, Sweden. (Photo by Jonas Ericsson/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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Mikaela Shiffrin has a new head coach starting after this season -- Karin Harjo, who as of last year as the Canadian women’s head coach was the only woman leading a national Alpine skiing team on the World Cup.

Harjo, who has coached for 23 years, including with the U.S. women’s team from 2015 to 2022, replaces Mike Day, who worked with Shiffrin from 2016 until last month.

Harjo will start in her new role next month, after this week’s season-ending World Cup Finals. Shiffrin, who in her most recent race on Saturday broke the career Alpine World Cup wins record, is expected to race a super-G on Thursday, a slalom on Saturday and a giant slalom on Sunday (broadcast schedule here).

“I’m really looking forward to working with Karin again, this time more directly as my new head coach,” Shiffrin said in a press release. “For a large part of my career, I’ve gotten to work with her here and there with her positions on the women’s tech team and then speed team in more recent years. I’ve witnessed her exceptional work ethic, her ability to work well with other coaches, and most importantly her connection and dedication to her athletes. I believe she can add a huge benefit to my program in the coming years and will provide a fresh and new way of thinking as we move forward.”

Harjo led a Canadian women’s team that last season earned its first world championships medal in 20 years (Laurence St-Germain‘s slalom gold over Shiffrin) and first World Cup win in seven years (Valerie Grenier in a giant slalom).

Before that, Harjo was an assistant coach for the U.S. women’s technical program (slalom and giant slalom) from 2015-17 and an assistant coach for the U.S. women’s speed program (downhill and super-G) from 2017 to 2022.

“I am beyond excited and humbled by the opportunity to work with Mikaela in this capacity,” Harjo said in a press release. “I started my World Cup coaching career working with the U.S. women’s tech team, and have always been impressed with Mikaela’s focus, resilience and dedication to the process. Her work ethic is second to none, and I’m looking forward to working with her in this next stage of her career. The thing that strikes me the most about Mikaela is that she has already achieved so much, but she still knows there’s still room for betterment. I like to think I approach my coaching career in this way, and I’m so looking forward to working together with Mikaela and the team.”

In 2016, Harjo became the first woman to set a women’s World Cup technical course for the first slalom run in Flachau, Austria. In 2022, she became the second woman to be a national team head coach on the World Cup after Marie-Theres Nadig, the Swiss women’s head coach in 2004-05.

Shiffrin told Day during February’s worlds that she planned to take a new direction with her staff at the end of the season, and Day decided to leave immediately, Shiffrin’s publicist said. Day did not publicly comment.

Shiffrin has also been coached through her career by her mom, Eileen.

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