Skier Mikaela Shiffrin is only 22 years old, but she’s already accomplished more than most people her age ever will — seriously, her list of accomplishments is ridiculous (I personally feel quite lazy and inadequate in comparison). Just to prove it, here’s a quick recap of her biggest successes thus far:
- Shiffrin made Olympic history at the Sochi Games four years ago when she became the youngest athlete to win the slalom event.
- She won the World Cup overall title last year and was dubbed the best slalom skier in the world.
- Heading into Pyeongchang, she has 41 (!!!) titles on the World Cup circuit (only one other skier had as many victories at 22 years old, Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Pröll).
Shiffrin not only has an admirable amount of drive, dedication and talent, but simply put, she also has the sheer will to win. And win she will at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Before you watch this fierce female athlete win the gold for Team USA, get to know Mikaela Shiffrin a little bit better.
SheKnows: What’s your earliest memory of skiing?
Mikaela Shiffrin: I remember I was 5 years old. It was my first memory of a powder day in Vail, and I got stuck under the snow and felt like I was suffocating. My dad pulled me out of the snow upside down by my ski boots and gave me a few quick instructions on how to ski in powder snow. He told me to lean a little bit back so my ski tips didn’t sink into the snow and not to use my edges so much, so I skied straight down the next run totally in the backseat and had to wait at the bottom of the trail for 15 minutes for everyone to catch up to me.
SK: What’s your earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
MS: I remember watching replays of Bode winning his medals in Salt Lake City. I dreamed about winning Olympic medals like him, but I did not expect that it would really happen until it actually did.
SK: Tell us about the moment you realized you were making the Olympic skiing team.
MS: When I started winning World Cup races consistently, I realized that I could make my Olympic dream more of a goal, and I could probably reach it!
SK: What would people be surprised to learn about training for the Olympics?
MS: One thing people don’t realize about my sport is that even though I have training sessions that last five hours or so, I only get about seven to 10 minutes doing my actual sport because the rest of the time is spent on chairlifts, doing video analysis, taking a rest. It does not add up to a lot of time as in other sports, for example tennis, where you can hit a ball for three hours straight and get a ton of practice.
SK: What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome on your road to competing in the Olympics? Did you ever think about quitting?
MS: One of the bigger obstacles that I recently faced was a knee injury last year. Luckily it was not as bad as it could have easily been, but I tore my MCL, got a tibial plateau fracture and a large bone bruise, and had to take two months off from skiing in the middle of the competition season. I did not need surgery, but I was on crutches for two weeks, had to learn how to walk again, and spent a ton of time in rehab and therapy trying to do basic things like straightening and bending my knee or activating my quad muscle. All of that gets quite monotonous when you spend your whole life skiing at 40 to 80 miles per hour, and all of a sudden you can’t do simple things like get milk from the refrigerator or walk down stairs.
SK: How do women support one another in your sport?
MS: We spend every waking hour together from the beginning of the season to the end and during all of my on-snow camps, so it starts to feel a bit like a family. All the women are really cool, funny, and work really hard.
SK: Do you have any competition rituals, lucky charms or superstitions?
MS: No real rituals, I like to listen to music before my races to keep myself calm, and sometimes I will do word searches with my mom. We have two copies of the same word search and will race to see who can find all of the words first. The only thing I usually have with me is a St. Christopher necklace from my best friend that she gave to me before I started traveling on the World Cup to keep me safe through all of the traveling.
SK: How do you motivate yourself when you’re feeling nervous or defeated?
MS: In general, people have believed in me the entire way. Well, at least the people that I really care about have believed in me and believed that I could get to the level I am at.
SK: Do you have a skiing playlist or any particular artists/songs you like listening to when you’re on a run?
MS: “Footprints” by Sia, “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, “Say My Name” (feat. Zyra) by ODESZA, “Daddy Lessons” by Beyoncé, “Runaway (U & I) [Svidden & Jarly Remix]” by Galantis.
SK: Where do you keep all your medals?
MS: I basically keep my gold from Sochi in my sock drawer. Don’t want it to get stolen or damaged.
SK: What athlete is your greatest source of inspiration?
MS: Michael Phelps is definitely an Olympic inspiration to me. Also Bode Miller, one of my biggest idols in my sport.