To understand the stirring reaction, we have to backtrack to 2012 and the 19 year olds first World Cup victory in the night slalom race. It was in the aftermath of this historic victory that , then 11-year old Emma Lundell from Örnsköldsvik in Sweden, and Mikaela Shiffrin met for the first time.
“That first year in Åre, when I met her, it was my first World Cup win and I was very excited and I was tired, of course – it was a night race. And I was like "I don't have enough time to spend with everybody else, I don't want to talk to the media, I want to go home and celebrate with my close family and talk to my brother and father on the phone" – and there she was! And she was like "I have cancer, do you mind taking a picture?". That was it. And it made her life! And I was like... okay, that was the biggest wake up call!”, Mikaela Shiffrin says to SPORT-Expressen.
Wrote about Emma on Facebook
After the meeting Shiffrin took to Facebook and told the world about her meeting with Swedish 13-year old Emma, “I told her a story about my friend who had cancer - he is healthy and thriving now”. The Facebook post finished with the words: “The best Christmas present I could ever get was to see Emma smile. Thank you”.
Emma Lundell had at that point devoted major parts of her youth to the fight against leukemia. Since then Emma has made giant leaps forward in the battle for a cancer free life. She is no longer in chemotherapy. And she is now skiing again.
Emma: "Gave me strength to carry on"
So SPORT-Expressen brought a little video message to Mikaela Shiffrin in the Alps, from Emma Lundell in Sweden.
“I want you to know that our short meeting gave me the strength to carry on. Carry on the fight against cancer. You and your mum were so humble and nice. Today I am not in chemo any more, I feel much better. My hair has grown back and I feel stronger every day”, she says in the video.
As soon as it starts playing Mikaela Shiffrin asks:
“Is that Emma?!”
When the video is at it´s end 58 seconds later, the skier can´t hold back the tears.
“Oh my gosh. Wow! So cute... I don't know why I'm crying... she's so cute, she's so pretty. She looks so good! My gosh, that makes me so happy. I wonder about her a lot, actually... Sorry, I'm gonna take a second... I don't know why I'm crying, I don't really even know her. I just...
She then explains their special relationship and how the skier thinks of her when she feels like she is losing the spirit of humility.
Shiffrin: "So glad you are healthy"
And when SPORT-Expressen's reporter asks if she wants to reply anything to the Swedish teenager, Mikaela Shiffrin replies.
“Can I look in the camera?”
“Emma, I'm so glad that you are healthy and that your chemo is done. Your hair is beautiful! And I love your accent! The way you Swedish girls talk, you have such a beautiful little... ah, God, it's just great! I'm so glad and I hope that I see you again, maybe in Åre. I think about you a lot and I'm very glad that I met you because you keep me grounded when I get arrogant. And I think about how tough it must have been for you and I'm so glad to have met you and I wish you the best.”