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She has won all three slalom World Championships she has competed in and four of the past five World Cup slalom titles.
(She was injured for half the season the year she didn’t win.) Last March, at the World Cup finals, in Aspen, Colorado, she also clinched the over-all title—compiling more points across all the disciplines than anyone else—the ultimate prize, in the eyes of practitioners, far greater than Olympic gold.
“It was a reminder that sometimes it’s better to be oblivious, but I’m not oblivious anymore, so how do I handle that?
”Shiffrin, who is twenty-two now, was fifteen when she first appeared on the World Cup tour—the top international tier of racing, as big in Europe, you might say, as Nascar is in America.
She sprinted the length of the gym while pulling a weighted sled, then ran back while pushing a heavier sled, then did bouncy squat-like reps on a contraption that seemed to mimic skiing over bumps, then dragged a weighted sled backward, then rowed hard on an ergometer, then skated side to side in her stocking feet on a slide board while holding a ten-pound medicine ball.
When Shiffrin works out, you are not supposed to cheer her on.
Her mother, Eileen, her de facto coach, taskmaster, and wingman, suggested that she talk to a sports psychologist. “It didn’t feel like I was seeing a shrink,” she said.“Killington was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t realize it till I was there,” Shiffrin told me.“I was kind of freaking out.” Her extended family, including her grandmother, who was ninety-five, came to watch her race. “Instead of just answering questions, I started to myself answering them,” she said.She was so good at going fast that she didn’t look fast. The Shiffrins are not shy about projecting their example onto the world, but it’s hard to argue with their findings.“The kids with raw athletic talent rarely make it,” Jeff Shiffrin, Mikaela’s father, told me. Kites fly higher against a headwind.”Skiers have long been psycho about their off-season workouts.
“The motivation must come from within” is a mantra I heard her and others repeat.