If Mikaela Shiffrin had been a baseball participant, her numbers would make her a post-season MVP.


The American skier gained 4 medals in her 4 occasions on the latest world championships and improved her profession report on the next-biggest occasion in snowboarding after the Olympics to 11 medals in 13 races.

Her Olympic report? Three medals in 5 occasions.

That is a mixed 14 for 18 at main championships — worlds and Olympics.

WATCH | Shiffrin gold in tremendous mixed breaks U.S. report:

The American set new U.S. data along with her sixth world title and ninth profession world medal by successful the ladies’s tremendous mixed on the world championships in Italy. 1:26

To place these numbers in perspective, take into account Lindsey Vonn’s profession outcomes at main championships. Whereas the retired Vonn stays probably the most profitable feminine skier in World Cup historical past with a report 82 victories (the 25-year-old Shiffrin has 68 World Cup wins and counting), her haul of 11 medals in 39 races already pales compared to Shiffrin’s efficiency.

So how does Shiffrin do it? Nicely, past her extraordinary snowboarding expertise and years and years of coaching, it is all about her psychological method.

Shiffrin, you see, has had the identical actual focus for medal races since her very first huge occasion — the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria. Or, to be extra exact, since midway by the slalom at these worlds, when she gained the world title at age 17 for her first medal.

Shiffrin just lately thought again to that race, acknowledging that she was “freaking out” between runs.

After the primary leg, Shiffrin sat third behind Scandinavian veterans Frida Hansdotter and Tanja Poutiainen, and had Maria Höfl-Riesch and Tina Maze — two of the best skiers of their era — respiratory down her neck in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Shiffrin was listening to music on her headphones however having a troublesome time taming her nerves contained in the hospitality space when U.S. teammate Steven Nyman walked in and requested her mother and coach, Eileen, what the issue was.

“He said, ‘Alright, alright, alright. Tell her to take her headphones off, we have to have a discussion,”‘ Shiffrin stated. “And we did. And he stated, ‘World championships there’s one aim. You are not making an attempt to guard your lead within the general title or the season titles or something. You are not defending something. You go for gold, that is it. You’ve gotten every thing to achieve and nothing to lose. So go for it.’

Go-for-broke technique

“And I used to be like, ‘Huh. That is actually attention-grabbing. OK,”‘ Shiffrin added. “And it did not, like, take away my nerves of whether or not I may ski quicker, make up the time distinction, or all these completely different items. But it surely received me psyched up simply to do my greatest. And each world championships since then, whether or not I am nervous or I am feeling nice — it would not matter — I’ve all the time remembered what Steven stated.”

Nyman, a 39-year-old downhiller who has gained three World Cup downhills however by no means a medal at a worlds or Olympics, recalled how he “discovered it form of humorous that she was so nervous although she had already had a lot success.”

“However that is what makes her distinctive,” Nyman said via email. “[Marcel] Hirscher had the identical perspective. He by no means felt like he was so good he may cruise. He all the time performed thoughts video games with himself making him imagine individuals had been proper on his tail.”

Hirscher, the just lately retired Austrian who gained a report eight straight general World Cup titles, additionally as soon as mentioned how he so persistently employed his go-for-broke technique.

As Nyman advised, Hirscher imagined that he was all the time being chased.

“When you’re standing in entrance of an enormous, huge, large wall, and you don’t have any alternative to climb up there, after which behind you, there are 100 loopy canines who wish to eat you up, then you need to go on your life,” Hirscher stated in 2013 when requested to clarify his method.

It is the identical attacking mentality that Shiffrin employed when she gained gold in mixed, silver in big slalom and bronze in super-G and slalom during the last two weeks in Cortina.

‘Dealing with new psychological arenas’

The 4 medals matched the most important haul ever by a girl at worlds, with Marielle Goitschel (in 1966), Rosi Mittermaeier (1976), Hanni Wenzel (1980) and Anja Pärson (2007) additionally having gained 4 medals in a single version.

Shiffrin’s achievement was all of the extra outstanding contemplating she did not race for 10 months final 12 months following the sudden dying of her father, Jeff Shiffrin. Her comeback was then slowed by the coronavirus pandemic and a again damage.

With out a lot coaching, Shiffrin had raced solely sparingly coming into the worlds.

“She would not have the dominance this 12 months as years previous so it needed to be arduous for her discover that perception to win,” said Nyman, who has known Shiffrin since she was a child. “She is dealing with new psychological arenas presently and it has been enjoyable to look at her navigate them.”

That is as a result of, whether or not she has educated or not, Shiffrin is all the time the skier to beat — which makes her one of many largest medal threats for subsequent 12 months’s Beijing Olympics.

“I do know that I’ve the capabilities to ski actually quick. And if I do, I do know it has the potential to win,” Shiffrin said. “But it surely simply boils down as to if I try this properly sufficient, and actually what the opposite women do. And I am unable to management what they do. So all I can actually do is go on the market and take a look at my greatest and see what occurs.

“So in a way there’s less pressure at world champs than even World Cup races, because you’re not protecting something. But at the same time you know it’s a big event, it’s the one chance to go for gold.”

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