When it comes to Alpine skiing and the Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin says she’s not much of a gambler, as the American all-rounder prefers Lady Luck to play no part in her results.
But with the sport exposed to the elements and the whims of Mother Nature, a race can be decided on something as simple as the luck of the draw.
Over the course of an Alpine World Cup season, that good and bad fortune tends to balance out.
At an Olympics, however, you get one shot and everything has to go right in that moment, and for Shiffrin, that hasn’t always been the case.
“I really don’t like the idea that my results are based off luck but sometimes that plays more of a role than others and that’s definitely the case at the Olympics,” Shiffrin told reporters last week during call from Soelden, Austria, where she is preparing for the start of the new World Cup campaign this weekend.
“At the end of the day you can make every move right, you can be rested, ready to go, strong and it can still be totally messed up for reasons that are completely out of your control.
“I don’t really love that because I tend to be super controlling over everything that is happening in my life so it is sort of like nails on a chalkboard to me.
“It’s more like gambling than racing.”
Still, there will be few betting against Shiffrin adding to her Olympic haul at next year’s Beijing Winter Games, where she plans to compete in every Alpine event.
Shiffrin already has a pair of Olympic titles, winning slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the giant slalom at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
While double-Olympic champion has a nice ring to it, the results are less than expected from an athlete who has six world championships, 69 World Cup wins and three crystal globes for winning the overall World Cup title.
The 2021-22 campaign is shaping up as a season of big dreams for the 26-year-old American, who is eager to reassert herself as the sport’s dominant athlete after more than a year of being slowed by back injuries, COVID-19 disruptions and the sudden death of her father last February.
Asked whether another overall World Cup title or Olympic medals would mean more, a thoughtful Shiffrin weighed her options before leaning more towards an overall title, since that would rely more on performance than luck.
“That is something I am dreaming about, being able to compete in every event in China,” Shiffrin said. “Another big dream is to get back to the place where I am a contender for the overall.
“If I could flash forward to the end of the season I’d be far more disappointed if I had essentially skied slow or not stacked up for any of the World Cup races, but somehow won an individual or multiple medals at the Olympics.
“Luck sways the Olympic results so much more than it does in any normal World Cup or when you look at the results for throughout an entire season.”
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