Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin has called for winter sports to be more diverse and accessible, saying she feels "incredibly lucky" to have had opportunities in her life to take up alpine skiing.
"I feel like a million different stars aligned to help me get to where I am," she wrote on social media in a fundraising effort for Share Winter Foundation, which aims to give 100,000 youth the opportunity to take up winter sports by 2028.
"I know that not everyone is blessed with the good fortune I have come across, in fact very few are.
"Over the years the lack of accessibility for a diverse group of people in winter sports has funneled us into a very *not* diverse community," Shiffrin added.
Reflecting on her career, she acknowledged: "A thousand different people assisted me in my dreams and showed me support at the most crucial times. I've come across hundreds of different moments where the path in front of me diverged and I either chose to take or was guided down the 'right' path to this point now.
"It's actually pretty incredible when I think about it, and even though it has taken a lot of hard work and I like to think that 'luck' isn’t part of the equation, I still can't help but feel incredibly lucky.
"I love this community, but can't help but wonder how much more potential there is for it to be stronger if we could help #sharewinter with everyone, rather than just those of us who have the means, the access, or the background (and bloodlines) to support it."
While her comeback to the global FIS circuit – which will not visit North America this season due to ongoing concerns over the pandemic situation – resulted in double slalom defeat to Petra Vlhova, Shiffrin intends to continue to focus on the technical events as she builds to a place she feels comfortable with after not having raced or trained much since February.
The American missed the start of the season with a back injury, and has not raced or trained for speed races (downhill and super-G) since the beginning of the year.
She will sit out upcoming super-G races in Switzerland, where she won two years ago; the three-time overall Crystal Globe winner will likely return in mid-December for two giant slalom races in France.
In October, Shiffrin told Olympic Channel she was still learning to grieve for her father.
"I want to be in the start gate again and I want to enjoy it and it's going to take a little bit of time to get to a really good place. But I'm happy about that process, I'm in that process, one step at a time.
"It does get overwhelming, and I do want to stay in bed all the time. My mom has been a total rock, she's been going through all this with me as well."
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Federation has a fund named after Shiffrin's father, Jeff, to support its athletes aiming for the Beijing 2022 Olympics.