Mikaela Shiffrin: A day in her life
As the youngest athlete ever to win Olympic gold in slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin has enjoyed many memorable moments in her stellar career. But the one day that really stands out is in February 2018, when she won her first Super G – the only alpine speed event in the World Cup series that she hadn’t yet won.
“When I was a little girl, I dreamed of winning in all the skiing disciplines, but I didn’t expect that it would happen so quickly. And then to do it again the following week in St. Moritz was even more incredible. It was really special to know that all the hard work had paid off,” says the 23-year-old during a training break with her boyfriend in Norway.
On the world circuit, Lake Louise is one of the quietest races, surrounded by snow covered pines and the majestic ridge lines of the Canadian Rockies. Most people have to fly there and the stadium only has space for a couple of hundred fans – a stark contrast to the previous weekend in Vermont, where almost 40,000 people attended.
“For me it’s really nice because you’re not focusing on all the other distractions – you’re just doing your skiing. It’s almost like going back to when I was 12 or 13 and the only people watching were parents and staff,” says Shiffrin. Shiffrin was only two and a half years old when her parents began teaching her how to ski in their driveway at home.
“My first memory is probably of skiing in the Nastar ski racing program. You just start and they say who has the fastest time within your group. That’s a really fun thing to do. I skied with my brother and parents – that was one of the first things that got me into the sport. I always wanted to race and I always had that competitive spirit.”
Having achieved one of her primary goals, with the clean sweep last year, her next ambition is to become one of the world’s best skiers of her generation.
“It’s about putting in the time and the hard work, but also doing it in the right way, so it works. A lot of skiers could win races, but maybe their equipment isn’t quite at the right level to give them the speed they need. That’s one small detail that can make a really big difference. It’s also about managing your time, so that you have the right amount of confidence, and preparing properly, so that you have the right energy levels. I think we have a good balance of that in my team. Right now, it’s working, but that isn’t always the case,” Shiffrin says.
Although the skier herself downplays her many feats, it hasn’t stopped the experts analyzing Shiffrin’s astonishing achievements. In 2018, she reached a total of 51 World Cup victories, as the youngest skier ever. If she continues like this, she could beat Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 88 victories within just a few years. Even if she does though, it wouldn’t change anything, however.
“Stenmark is one of the biggest legends in our sport and he’ll always be that. People who know nothing about skiing remember Stenmark. He made such a big impact and you can never take that away. It’s impossible to compare, really. He was in a different sport. It has evolved massively since then – the skis are different, so is the technology – all these things are different. To be the greatest now, you’d have to maybe achieve 120 wins,” says Shiffrin.
Her all-time favorite is the American champion, Bode Miller for his style, which was sometimes extremely reckless and exciting – not unlike his personality. Now it’s Mikaela Shiffrin who’s captivating huge audiences.
“It’s hard to believe, because I’m inspired by other people and I still feel like I did when I was 12, watching Bode compete and hoping that I could maybe get him to autograph my helmet. Now I’m one of the best skiers in the world myself, but it’s still easy for me to look back on those days, and it feels unreal to me to be in this position, because I still feel like that little girl.”
Published: February 12, 2019
Last edited: February 14, 2019