For Mental Health Awareness Month, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, ESPN Daily Podcast, and ESPN.com collaborated on an intimate interview with two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin.
ESPN senior writer Alyssa Roenigk interviewed the skiing superstar about Shiffrin’s shockingly disappointing 2022 Winter Olympics performance in Beijing and the importance of mental health.
A winner of two golds and a silver medal during the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics, Shiffrin did not reach the podium in Beijing in February. She competed in six events. Shiffrin acknowledged that the pressure she put on herself to win – as well as grief over the unexpected death of her father in 2020 – affected her mental health and performance.
After the Olympics, she sought counseling.
In March, Shiffrin scored her fourth World Cup Overall title.
The cross-platform collaboration included Roenigk’s written piece on espn.com and a televised interview with Shiffrin that aired this past Saturday and Monday on OTL. Watch the interview embedded at the bottom of this post.
Roenigk will discuss the story on the ESPN Daily Podcast on Tuesday, May 17.
Roenigk spoke with Front Row:
How did you secure this interview?
I started working with Mikaela and her team on a story toward the end of 2021, and the story took shape over several months. Our first interview took place over Zoom on New Year’s Eve. She was in quarantine in a hotel in Austria, where she spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve, after testing positive for Covid. We talked about a lot of the deep topics I write about in the story. We continued our interviews after the Olympics and World Cup season ended and scheduled the TV interview for when she was home in Colorado for a week at the end of April. We decided her story would best be told during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental health is health.
For #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, we’re highlighting several Olympians and Paralympians who have openly shared their stories and thoughts about mental health.@MikaelaShiffrin | #LA28 pic.twitter.com/oDHyPAgq2p
— LA28 (@LA28) May 4, 2022
Why do you think it’s important to highlight and or tell the stories about mental health in the world of sports?
Mental health is health. When we allow athletes to talk about it and be honest about their struggles, we elevate the conversation around mental health for all of us.
What do you hope to convey to fans with this conversation?
I think every person can connect with some part of Mikaela’s story. Maybe that’s holding ourselves to impossible standards, splitting ourselves into two people — one for the public and one for those closest to us — or treating others with a level of compassion we do not show to ourselves. Sometimes in reading stories like hers, we hold a mirror up to ourselves and hopefully learn, as she is learning, to be kinder to ourselves and take time to care for our mental health in the same way we do our physical health.