(NEW YORK) — Seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles, who suffered her own setbacks at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, is showing support for U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who on Tuesday suffered her second early exit from a Beijing Olympics competition.
Biles tagged Shiffrin in a tweet Tuesday, posting her handle alongside three white hearts.
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) February 9, 2022
Biles, 24, went into the Tokyo Olympics with the pressure of being on track to win an unprecedented six gold medals, with the aim of becoming the first woman since 1968 to win back-to-back titles in the all-around gymnastics competition. Instead, citing mental health struggles, Biles withdrew from the team competition as well as several individual competitions, leaving the 2020 Games with two medals: a silver and a bronze.
“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” Biles wrote on Instagram during the Summer Olympics. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!”
Like Biles, Shiffrin, 26, entered the Beijing Olympics with the weight of high expectations and the pressure of being an American Olympic star.
The Colorado native and two-time Olympic gold medalist is one medal away from tying the record for most Olympic medals by an American female Alpine skier — four. She is two gold medals away from holding the record for most golds ever by a female Alpine skier — also four.
Shiffrin fell during her first run in the giant slalom Monday, disqualifying her from the event.
On Tuesday, Shiffrin missed the fourth gate in her slalom run, the event where she won her first Olympic gold in 2014.
After the accident, she sat on the side of the hill, with her head in her hands, for minutes.
Prior to the start of the Beijing Olympics, Shiffrin said she had watched how Biles handled her own pressure-cooker environment at the Tokyo Olympics and noted that for some Olympians, the perception is, “It has to be gold or else that’s a huge disappointment.”
On Twitter, Biles also highlighted another aspect of the pressure Olympic athletes face: what happens after a supposed failure.
Biles retweeted a post that read, “I don’t know, shaming people just because they didn’t perform well at the Olympics feels like the opposite of why we supposedly have the Olympics in the first place.”
Shiffrin’s boyfriend, fellow skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who is competing for Norway in Beijing, asked for fans to support Shiffrin. He shared a photo on Instagram of Shiffrin sitting on the snow after her fall in the 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!,” he wrote. “It’s a part of the game and it happens. 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!!”
Shiffrin is still expected to compete in the super-G on Thursday, the downhill on Feb. 14 and the combined on Feb. 17.
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