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Olympians rally behind Mikaela Shiffrin after second disqualification

Athletes came together to send their love and support to Mikaela Shiffrin, whose early exit from her two best events shocked fans.

WASHINGTON — Fellow Olympians and fans all around the world are rallying behind Mikaela Shiffrin, after her rough start to the 2022 Olympic Games.

So far this week, she has been disqualified in a matter of seconds from two of her best events, the giant slalom and the slalom, and has been very open about her disappointment. 

“I’ve never been in this position before,” the two-time Olympic gold medalist said in an interview after her slalom disqualification, tears dampening her cheeks, “and I don’t know how to handle it.”

Last year, Shiffrin shared that she thought she may never ski again after the sudden death of her father, Jeff, who passed away two years ago from a severe head injury after an accident at the family's Colorado home. 

Shiffrin's struggles and disappointment so far at the Winter Games has provoked a strong showing of support and solidarity from other Olympic athletes. 

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, a top Alpine ski racer and Shiffrin's boyfriend, commented on the now viral image of Shiffrin sitting down off the course after her failed slalom run. 

"When you look at this picture you can make up so many statements, meanings and thoughts. 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," Kilde explained

"It’s a part of the game and it happens," he wrote. "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!!"

Other Olympian skiers rallied behind Shiffrin on social media, praising her for her strength. 

Downhill racer Breezy Johnson, who had to withdraw just before the Olympics because of a training injury, had a simple message for Shiffrin and everyone else: 

"We try," she wrote on Twitter. "It's never guaranteed. But for me winning is about putting your heart into something that might not go your way. It's about giving it your all even though circumstances might not allow you to win in the end."

Shiffrin's Olympic challenges and the complicated coverage of them happen this year in a new light. 

Last year during the Tokyo Olympics, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles renewed the conversation about athletes' mental health and the pressure faced by Olympians when she dropped out of nearly all events and opened up about the mental-health issues she was dealing with. 

At the time, Shiffrin was vocal in her support of Biles, telling the gymnast to never drop her smile. 

Shortly after Shiffrin's second disqualification, Biles returned the support in a short tweet: 

Some fans on social media criticized how the NBC broadcast seemed determined to document every moment of Shiffrin trying to process what had happened. 

As for Shiffrin, the Olympian seemed to take solace in the love of her boyfriend and support from the rest of Team USA. 

"My hope for every human is that they find another human who finds a way to love, understand, and heal them in the way [Aleksander Kilde] has done and continues to do me," she wrote. 

Speaking to reporters before competition began in Beijing, Shiffrin explained that she and Kilde both try to help the other navigate the world's expectations and the high expectations they have for themselves. "We share in each other's successes and also disappointments," she said at the time.

Shiffrin is still set to compete in up to three more events at this year's Olympics. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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