Any time an athlete is competing in multiple events at an Olympics, it can create a chaotic schedule, especially for Alpine skiers who can face multiple runs for a single event. At 26 years old Mikaela Shiffrin is hoping to do what she couldn’t four years ago: overcome the challenging schedule and medal in five different events.
In PyeongChang, Shiffrin found herself under an immense amount of pressure and had to withdraw from the super-G and downhill events due to a tight schedule made worse by weather delays. However, former Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn and Picabo Street aren’t worried about Shiffrin making history at the 2022 Winter Games.
Vonn and Street are two of the most well-known American Alpine skiers. Street has two medals herself, a silver medal from the 1994 Games in downhill and a gold medal in the super-G from the 1998 Games. She was also the first American to win a World Cup season title in the downhill event in 1995. Vonn competed in four Olympics and is the most successful American woman on the World Cup tour with 82 victories. Vonn didn’t hesitate in expressing support for Shiffrin as she prepares to chase history.
“I’m really expecting her to get a medal in every event that she competes in, because she absolutely has the capability of doing that and that’s a compliment,” Vonn remarked.
Shiffrin is only nine World Cup victories shy of Vonn’s record. After overcoming a difficult year with COVID-19 and the death of her father, Shiffrin still found ways to improve in the speed events, finding the podium twice in the super-G event. She also leads the overall World Cup standings from this year.
Vonn added, “I really think she’s skiing exceptionally well,” elaborating, “she’s maybe not had quite the consistency this year, but that’s obviously expected considering the tragedy that she’s faced, and I think this is going to be an amazing Games for her.”
It really is quite the endorsement as Vonn knows the difficult task of competing in all five individual events an Alpine skier can race in. In 2010, Vonn attempted the challenge, winning two medals (one gold and one bronze). However, she was disqualified in two events.
If Mikaela can medal in each of her individual events, she would break the record for the biggest medal haul at a single Olympics by an Alpine skier. The record is held by Croatian Janica Kostelic, who won four medals, including three golds, at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Street believes Mikaela has the confidence this go-around.
“I believe she’s going into the Games thinking, I got this whatever is coming my way,” Street said of her fellow compatriot.
Street said she needs that confidence, “There is no better challenge for her to go: ‘Okay, have I stepped up and, pulled this off?’ What’s gonna be the proof for someone like her is (all) five, right? That’s the level of success she’ll need.”
For Americans, there is a clear passing of the torch from Street to Vonn to Shiffrin in terms of dominance in the sport.
“That’s the beautiful thing about the Olympics, exactly how far can they go? And I think we’re gonna see some athletes really, really blow through the ceiling in these Games,” Street added.
If these Games go Shiffrin’s way, she’ll do exactly that. The three-time Olympian begins competition on Feb. 7 in the giant slalom.