One of Mikaela Shiffrin’s greatest gifts is making it all look so easy.
Shiffrin is the undoubted superstar of not only skiing, but pretty much all winter sports. At 26 she is already a three-time winner of the Overall World Cup title and has won 45 Slalom World Cup races, more than anyone in history.
Yet every time she goes down the slopes she still looks like a little girl just skiing for the pure joy of it. She comes across as more of a relatable, awkward dork than a media-trained machine during her interviews, never giving off the kind of superior air that you might expect from someone who may go down as the greatest of all time.
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And in keeping with that when, during a media session in Austria for her ski supplier Atomic, she is asked whether she feels ready for the opening weekend at Solden in a few weeks' time she laughs.
“I don’t ever feel ready for anything,” Shiffrin replies in typically open fashion.
I never feel ready for Solden. Maybe there are some athletes who are like ‘okay it’s time to race I’m so ready to race now'.
“But I’m pretty much ‘no I don’t want to race, I don’t want to race I’m not ready yet’ until it’s time to go and you don’t have a choice and then you go.”
That’s Shiffrin in a nutshell. Listening to her talk it’s hard not to feel just how human she is. Over the past few years the American has evolved from a shy, awkward kid, to a brutally honest and thoughtful person, never afraid of showing her humanity.
During a wide-ranging interview alongside Norwegian skiing star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Shiffrin seems relaxed, and happier than she has seemed for a while, which is hardly surprising given how brutal the last couple of years have been for her.

Mikaela Shiffrin (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

She admits that going up against rivals like Petra Vlhova and Katharina Liensberger can be “nerve-wracking” at times as they are both skiing at such a high level. She also revealed that she’s getting more involved with the development of the Atomic skis, saying that she took part in an extensive post-season testing session in the spring. Although she did say jokingly that she’s far from the detail-orientated obsessive nature of Austrian ski legend Marcel Hirscher.
Shiffrin, who revealed that this has felt like a far more normal pre-season, was unsurprisingly modest when asked about how she copes with being a star of the sport.
“I don’t feel like a star,” Shiffrin says, laughing again.

Mikaela Shiffrin (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

“So far the only thing that’s changed at home [since becoming more famous] is sometimes people will maybe recognise me a bit more and ask for a picture.
“The biggest change really is at ski races and it’s harder to walk through the crowds,
“During the off-season when I’m at home, it’s less… I’m at home so it feels safe and natural.”
After focusing predominantly on the technical events, her best, last season as she dealt with issues on and off the slopes, Shiffrin admitted she’s thinking about racing more speed events this season.

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However it comes with the caveat that she has to still be at her best during the technical events, that’s still the number one focus above all else, even the Overall title.
“For my whole career my focus will always be tech, but I love speed, and I love Lake Louise especially, so that is in the plan right now,” Shiffrin said.
“I probably won’t be at every single speed race, it’s just not really possible.
“The overall, is always in the back of my mind but it’s not my highest focus. My real top focus, the thing that’s driving all my decisions is if I’m able to ski slalom and GS to the best of my ability, on my top level. If I feel it’s not there I’ll take away some speed races or this or that or even say maybe the Overall globe is not something I want to do.

Mikaela Shiffrin (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

“This last season was a bit … kind of comeback, almost. And I really had enough to focus on in slalom and GS.
“I feel like there is a million things I can improve, especially after last season: The timing in the gates, in slalom keeping up with my quickness and agility, there was a conditioning aspect to it as well. I feel like everything could be on a higher level.”
Shiffrin will race the first weekend of the season at Solden on October 23rd. You can watch the entire weekend live on Eurosport and Eurosport.co.uk.
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