Mikaela Shiffrin: One Olympics doesn’t define a career

Mikaela Shiffrin
Getty Images
0 Comments

When Mikaela Shiffrin steps into the start house at the 2022 Winter Olympics, she will do with plenty of expectation on her shoulders.

She enters the Games with three Olympic medals. Eleven world championship podiums. Seventy-three World Cup wins. And three overall World Cup titles, an accolade that is considered the most prestigious honor in alpine skiing.

Needless to say, she is one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time.

But entering her third Olympics, Shiffrin knows that a resume like hers can serve as a double-edged sword.

Rather than serving as proof of her greatness – greatness that is solidified and eternal and forever hers – she understands that her previous success can also be weaponized should she not achieve similarly impressive results during the next two weeks.

Much of this pressure can be attributed to the fact that Shiffrin represents a country in which alpine skiing only truly enters the spotlight once every four years. There is little shared cultural understanding in the United States that – in this sport – most athletes and fans consider season-long World Cup success higher up the ladder than a one-off race on an unfamiliar slope on a windy mountain in China.

“No matter what you’ve done in your entire career, there will be a lot of people who boil your whole success and your whole career down to one Olympics,” she said earlier this week.

“The public scrutiny of… ‘You were supposed to win and you didn’t and you disappointed your entire country,’ that can be very challenging.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Alpine skiers explain: “What Mikaela Shiffrin taught me”

To be clear: Shiffrin wants to stand on the Olympic podium. She has set an ambitious goal of entering all five individual alpine skiing events, so long as the weather cooperates.

The detail-oriented alpine skier has done – perhaps quite literally – everything within her control to set herself up for success. But she also knows that not everything is within her control. And she hopes people watching know that, too.

“I’ve never in my life had three weeks where I had no regrets and no disappointments, at all. So I definitely can’t be expecting that at the Olympics,” she said.

“You could do everything right and get a gust of wind and, that’s that.”

MORE ALPINE SKIING COVERAGE: Sara Hector’s Olympic gold medal is a lesson in perseverance


Alpine Skiing Schedule for the 2022 Winter Olympics – Women’s Events:

Alpine Skiing Event Date / Start Time (U.S. Eastern Time) Date / Start Time (China)
Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) 2/6/22 8:30 PM 2/7/22 9:30 AM
Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) 2/7/22 1:30 AM 2/7/22 2:30 PM
Women’s Slalom (Run 1) 2/8/22 9:15 PM 2/9/22 10:15 AM
Women’s Slalom (Run 2) 2/9/22 12:45 AM 2/9/22 1:45 PM
Women’s Super-G 2/10/22 10:00 PM 2/11/22 11:00 AM
Women’s Downhill 2/14/22 10:00 PM 2/15/22 11:00 AM
Women’s Combined (Downhill Race) 2/16/22 9:30 PM 2/17/22 10:30 AM
Women’s Combined (Slalom Race) 2/17/22 1:00 AM 2/17/22 2:00 PM
Team Event 2/18/22 10:00 PM 2/19/22 11:00 AM

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC