WASHINGTON — Remember when U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin talked about dreaming of winning five gold medals at the 2018 Olympics? She’d like to take that back. Sort of.
It’s not so much that the Sochi Games slalom champion doesn’t think she’s capable of a big haul in four years. It’s more that she realizes what an outlandish thing it was to say out loud to a room full of media members back in February.
“I was just on, like, a gold-medal high there,” Shiffrin said with a laugh at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Best of U.S. Awards on Wednesday night. “You say something to the press and of course it’s going to be a quote. And I’m like, ‘I’m ready for five gold medals.’ (And then) I’m like, ‘Whoops. Shouldn’t have said that.’”
After jokingly rapping herself on the side of the head, Shiffrin continued on the topic. She sort of presented a defense of her comments from the day after she became, at 18, the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history.
“Of course, that’s everybody’s dream — you go to the Olympics to bring home gold, right? So I was really happy with bringing the slalom gold home this year and ... hopefully there’s quite a bit of time between now and (2018) to practice, and hopefully I have a shot at as many gold medals as I can get,” Shiffrin said.
“And who knows if I’ll actually get them,” she added, “but as long as I give myself a chance, then I’m happy.”
At the Sochi Olympics, Shiffrin entered only the slalom and the giant slalom, in which she finished fifth.
She’s been focusing so far on those two technical events but plans to broaden her repertoire eventually to include the speed events of super-G and downhill.
“I just get slalom at this point in my career. Something with the gates and my feet — everything makes sense,” said Shiffrin, who is the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in that discipline. “I’m trying to get that feeling in GS and hopefully at some point in super-G. But the slalom is what’s come first.”
The Colorado resident says she’s not sure how many super-G races she will enter during the 2014-15 World Cup season — “anywhere from nothing to everything.”
“The biggest advice I’ve gotten was basically just not to rush it, because it’s really hard to be a four-event skier. There’s just not enough time to do any training, and the tech events normally suffer. Slalom and GS are the ones you need to train the most, and if you’re doing speed (races), you don’t get to train them,” Shiffrin said. “So it’s mostly about pacing myself and doing a few super-Gs and then start learning downhill. Just take into account that I have to keep up with my training.”
Shiffrin was nominated Wednesday for top U.S. female athlete at the Olympics, an honor that went to luger Erin Hamlin. The awards show will air Monday on NBCSN.