Mikaela Shiffrin: 5 Things To Know About Olympic Gold Medalist Alpine Skier Returning to Beijing

One of the stars to watch during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be on the slopes. Mikaela Shiffrin looks to add to her collection of gold medals. Here's what you need to know.

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Image Credit: PETER SCHNEIDER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

It’s time for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Mikaela Shiffrin is ready. The 26-year-old skier looks to make history at the Beijing games, becoming one of the most decorated female alpine skiers in history. Preliminary matches take place on Feb. 3, with the Opening Ceremony set for Friday (Feb. 4). It all ends on Feb. 20. Will Mikaela leave Beijing with some shiny souvenirs? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Mikaela Shiffrin Is A Olympic Gold Medalist Skier

Mikaela Shiffrin of the USA reacts after taking the third place in the women’s Super-G race of the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland (PETER SCHNEIDER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin, born on March 13, 1995, is an alpine skier. She has won two Olympic gold medals – one for the slalom at the 2014 Sochi games and one for the giant slalom at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics – and one silver medal, for the women’s combined competition, from the 2018 Winter games. Mikaela will compete in all five women’s individual events, according to NBC Philadelphia. Her strongest events are the slalom and giant slalom, but she has stiff competition in those. She’s also the favorite in the combine event. If Mikaela goes through and competes in the speed events of super-G and downhill, she will be considered an underdog, but she has won at those events in the past.

2. Mikaela Is Also A World Record Holder

In a move that gave her all the momentum going into the Beijing 2022 games, Mikaela won her 47th world cup slalom victory in January. Mikaela came from behind, up from fifth place to beat Slovakian rival Petra Vlhova by 0.15 seconds. The win broke Mikaela’s tie with Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark for the most victories in a single World Cup discipline. Mikaela now sits atop the leaderboard, and she will likely add to that number before it’s all said and done.

“Any time you’re able to be a little bit faster than Petra, that’s an incredible job,” Mikaela said, per CNN. “She’s so strong, she’s making no mistakes, she’s skiing slalom the way it’s meant to be skied. It’s impressive. It’s really special to watch that. It’s a special season she’s had so far. It’s not stopping tonight, that’s for sure.”

3. Mikaela Could Break Another Record At Beijing

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom (Gabriele Facciotti/AP/Shutterstock)

Going into the 2022 Olympics, Mikaela is tied at third among American alpine skiers in total medals. Julia Mancuso (four) and Bode Mille (six) are ahead of her in the count. She could become the sixth woman ever to win three gold medals in alpine skiing if she finishes first in one of the events at Beijing. If she takes home two gold medals, she’ll tie the record-holder Croatia’s Janica Kostelić, who has four (per The Atlantic.)

4. She Is Dating Another Skier

In a case of mixing business with pleasure, Mikaela is dating one of the world’s best male alpine skiers, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. The couple revealed their romance in 2021. In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, the two have spent a lot of time apart while competing on their respective circuits. Sadly, they won’t have a happy reunion in Beijing.

“Everybody said we could spend so much time together,” said Kilde, per NBC Olympics. “It’s nice to have her, but it’s more challenging, because with COVID and the restrictions, you have to be really careful. It’s a tease, kind of. You see her, but you can’t really touch her, you can’t really be with her that much, but it’s really nice to have her here.”

(Mauro Dalla Pozza/Shutterstock)

“We’re keeping the same routines as always, I guess… FaceTiming, talking on the phone,” added Kilde. “We’re trying to stay a little bit careful because if we get COVID the consequences are too big. We talk in general how things are feeling, experiences, we talk general things about skiing, not really too much technical, but she sends me videos and we try to learn from each other a little bit and that’s cool. I have a lot to learn from her, that’s for sure.”

5. She Has Spoken About The Pressures Of Being A Olympian

Following Simone Biles’ decisions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and the discussion of athletes’ mental health, Mikaela said that she’s also facing the pressure heading into the Beijing Olympics.

“The pressure is always there, and you live with it, and you let it drive you,” she told the Associated Press. “But also, you can’t let it dominate you, can’t let it take over your mentality.” Shiffrin said that some folks view that Olympians have to win “gold or else that’s a huge disappointment,” which only increases the stress on competitors.

“It even went a step beyond that. It wouldn’t have been a ‘disappointment;’ people just didn’t even consider it a possibility. And what I know from that kind of pressure is: It is not easy to win. Ever.”

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