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Harjo Returns to Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
March, 13 2023
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced today the return of Karin Harjo to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team as head coach of the greatest alpine skier of all time, Mikaela Shiffrin (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced today the return of Karin Harjo to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team as head coach of the greatest alpine skier of all time, Mikaela Shiffrin.

The 23-year coaching veteran Harjo comes to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team following a successful stint as the head coach of the women’s alpine national team at Alpine Canada. While with Alpine Canada, athletes she worked with had breakthrough seasons, highlighted by Valérie Grenier’s first World Cup victory in giant slalom and Laurence St-Germain’s first World Championship medal and podium ever—a gold in slalom. 

Harjo began her coaching career in 2000 with the Timberline Atomic Summer Ski Race Camps at Mount Hood, Oregon. She quickly ascended through the ranks, joining the U.S. Ski Team as Head Western Region Coach from 2011 to 2015, then as assistant women’s World Cup tech coach from 2015 to 2017, assistant women’s World Cup speed coach from 2017 to 2022, and most recently the head coach role for Alpine Canada. 

“I am beyond excited and humbled by the opportunity to work with Mikaela in this capacity,” said Harjo. “I started my World Cup coaching career working with the U.S. women’s tech team, and have always been impressed with Mikaela’s focus, resilience and dedication to the process. Her work ethic is second to none, and I’m looking forward to working with her in this next stage of her career. The thing that strikes me the most about Mikaela is that she has already achieved so much, but she still knows there’s still room for betterment. I like to think I approach my coaching career in this way, and I’m so looking forward to working together with Mikaela and the team.” 

Shiffrin is also looking forward to the new, yet familiar, path forward. “I’m really looking forward to working with Karin again, this time more directly as my new head coach,” she reflected. “For a large part of my career, I’ve gotten to work with her here and there with her positions on the women’s tech team and then speed team in more recent years. I’ve witnessed her exceptional work ethic, her ability to work well with other coaches, and most importantly her connection and dedication to her athletes. I believe she can add a huge benefit to my program in the coming years and will provide a fresh and new way of thinking as we move forward.”

This isn’t Harjo’s first time working with Shiffrin. In fact, Harjo was an integral part of the team that supported several of Shiffrin’s 87 World Cup victories and 136 podiums, including her alpine combined gold medal at the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. 

Shiffrin added, “Karin cultivates strong team dynamics everywhere she works. For sure it will be something new to get used to, but I’m not very worried about the transition since I’ve known Karin for so long and she has always been open and honest from day one. I’m also excited to further highlight female coaches and staff within my group with Karin working alongside my mom and physio Regan [Dewhirst].”

Harjo’s path on the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit has been a storied one, as she’s broken several barriers in the sport. In 2016, she became the first woman to set a women’s World Cup technical course for the first slalom run in Flachau, Austria. In 2022, she became just the second woman to serve as a head women’s alpine coach when she joined Alpine Canada. She’ll join forces with Eileen Shiffrin—Shiffrin’s mother and longtime coach—as one of only a little over a handful of women coaches on the World Cup circuit. 

“We couldn’t be happier to have Karin back with the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team, now in this pivotal leadership role. She’s a great technical coach, connects well with athletes and pushes them to be their best, while creating a strong team environment,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport Anouk Patty. “Having two women coaching the best woman skier in history is momentous, and will hopefully pave the way for the future generation of women in coaching roles—in snowsports and beyond.”

Harjo and her husband Randy Pelkey are based in Underwood, Washington, near Timberline at Mount Hood, Oregon, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Official Training Site. 

Harjo will finish the remainder of the World Cup season with Alpine Canada and then will join Shiffrin and the team in Kvitfjell, Norway in April for their upcoming spring testing camp.