Mikaela Shiffrin is now a household name beyond the White Circus of ski racing. The 21-year-old American star, who sets a new record in almost every race, is not only talented and hard-working but also quite a personality. Here are a few things you probably didn't know about her:
1. Mikaela calms her nerves by doing word searches
While her competitors blast their favourite music to get into the zone or try to visualise the course one final time, Mikaela likes to do a word search puzzle as part of her pre-race routine. Word searches (not to be confused with crossword puzzles!) are a Shiffrin family tradition. As her race prep, Mikaela competes with her mom, who typically accompanies her on the World tour, doing the very same word search against the clock. The faster of the two wins, and there’s no looking over each other’s shoulder. 99 times out of 100, it’s Mikaela!
2. Mikaela has her own cookbook
Daily training and top level performance requires proper focus on nutrition. To share her personal tips for a well-balanced diet, Mikaela has published a cookbook called The Winning Recipes from Mikaela Shiffrin. However, although eating top quality food made of fresh ingredients is her priority, Mikaela is not opposed to sweets and treats on occasion!
3. Mikaela loves cat naps
Self-discipline is part and parcel of being the world’s best tech skier and Mikaela is undoubtedly dedicated to her career. That discipline includes a structured daily schedule. She has a self-imposed bedtime curfew of 9pm to ensure ample sleep. But she also loves to nap. She says that she only misses her afternoon nap once or twice a year – and her secret nickname is "Sir Naps A Lot". Rumour even has it that at the Sochi Games, before becoming the youngest ever Olympic slalom champion, she went to sleep on the floor of the hospitality tent atop rain jackets between the runs.
4. Mikaela is quite the pianist
Mikaela’s favourite playlist is as diverse as the skier herself. It ranges from Taylor Swift to Ellie Goulding to ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk. When she was younger, she used to take piano lessons and recently fell in love with the melodies of the Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. She loves to play them but many other things as you can see below. Mikaela also plays guitar and loves to sing and dance.
5. Mikaela’s helmet bears her motto ABFTTB
Mikaela has set her goals high and it is no secret that one day she hopes to be winning in all five Alpine disciplines, including the speed events. Since she was a kid, she’s marked her skis and helmets with the acronym ABFTTB: “Always Be Faster Than The Boys”. She likes to watch the men’s skiing to learn from their aggressive, no-nonsense style of skiing and often trains with the top men, such as Marcel Hirscher, relentlessly analysing their respective split times. Mikaela reckons she could finish in the top 30 in a men’s slalom race in her current shape!
Oh, and before we forget – Mikaela LOVES dancing (see her best dance moves here) and also had a different upbringing as a child prodigy than you would imagine...