How 22-year-old American Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, called 'the next Lindsey Vonn,' became the world's best slalom skier

• Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin is a favourite to earn more glory at this year’s Pyeongchang Games.

• She won gold in the giant slalom, and has four more events to go.

• Shiffrin also won gold in Sochi in 2014, at the age of 18.

• The competitor was the youngest person to win an Olympic gold medal in the slalom.

• She could become the first American woman to win three skiing medals at one Olympics, The Denver Post reported.

Mikaela Shiffrin wants you to know that she’s not a superhero.

The 22-year-old alpine skier became the youngest person to win an Olympic gold medal in the slalom at the Sochi Games. She’s long been labelled as the next Lindsey Vonn, as The New York Times reported back in 2014. She routinely puts herself through gruelling workouts that leave her feeling like she might pass out, according to The New Yorker. She’s currently the reigning overall World Cup Champion, which she snagged at St. Moritz in 2017.

And now, she’s on the verge of potentially making history at the Pyeongchang Games. She could become the first American woman to win three skiing medals at one Olympics, The Denver Post reported. She’s already won gold in the giant slalom, and has four more events to go.

“How I got here is a crazy path that probably could not be replicated,” she told The New York Times. “But it doesn’t have to be replicated. I may have become a world champion quicker than most, but people should look at me and realise there are all kinds of ways to get where you want to go.”

Shiffrin may not be a superhero, but she’s already accomplished some out-of-this-world athletic feats over the course of her life.

Here’s a look back at her career:


Shiffrin’s parents —  anesthesiologist Jeff and former nurse Eileen —  are both avid skiers, too. They introduced Shiffrin and her brother Taylor to the sport at the early age. “They had us walking around the living room in these tiny, little, plastic Mickey Mouse skis that you just latched onto snow boots,” Taylor told the New York Post.

Source: The New York Post, The New Yorker


All that early exposure paid off. When the Vail, Colorado native was five, she wowed skiing instructors with her technique. They ended up declaring they didn’t know which training group to put her in, Sports Illustrated reported. So Shiffrin continued to train with her parents.

Source: Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker


She ultimately attended Burke Mountain Academy, a Vermont prep school for young ski racers. By 2012, she had made the US ski team.

Source: Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker


The 16-year-old was quite a bit younger than most of her team members on the race circuit. Her mother Eileen ended up accompanying her on the tours.

Source: Sports Illustrated


The age gap was a source of friction, at times. “She had heard all kinds of stories about what goes on out on the World Cup. She said to me, ‘Nobody is going to want to hang out with me. I don’t drink. I don’t party. I don’t sleep with boys,'” Eileen told Sports Illustrated.

Source: Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker


Shiffrin has since bonded with other US team members. “I don’t feel like I’m tagging along anymore,” she told Sports Illustrated.

Source: Sports Illustrated


Her slalom wins at the 2013, 2015, and 2017 World Championships wowed the skiing world…

Source: US Skiing and Snowboarding


… as did her performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics. At the age of 18, she became the youngest alpine gold medalist in the slalom.

Source: NBC, Business Insider, USA Today


During the competition, she was going so fast that she nearly wiped out on the slope. “It scared me half to death,” she told USA Today. But Shiffrin recovered and went on to clinch the gold.

Source: NBC, Business Insider, USA Today


Her success attracted attention, and that heightened scrutiny had a downside. “I never used to feel nervous,” she told The New Yorker. “Just excited.” But the surge of public and media interest forced her to come to grips with a growing anxiety over her skiing.

Source: The New Yorker


She stays calm by focusing on internal motivation, rather than external pressures.

Source: Outside


She sticks to a daily schedule, downing a breakfast of toast and two fried eggs, and then embarking on a workout that involves everything from a ten-minute spin warmup to awe-inspiring Olympic lifts.

Source: Outside


Outside reported she’s also “fiercely committed” to her daily naps.

Source: Outside


When she’s not skiing or training, Shiffrin plays tennis and soccer. She also loves a good romantic comedy, telling US Skiing and Snowboarding, “Don’t even try to get me to watch a horror movie.”

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Source: US Skiing and Snowboarding


Shiffrin’s brother Taylor said her outlook is the ultimate key to her success. Rather than focusing on being “the best ever,” she looks to get better every day.

Source: The New York Post


He told the New York Post: “… Once you shift the focus from the process of being better than what you were yesterday to ‘I want to be the best ever,’ you lose sight of what’s going to make you the best ever.”

Source: The New York Post

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