What does it take to be an Olympic gold medalist? Ask U.S. Ski Team Alpine slalom phenom Mikaela Shiffrin, and she might just let you in on one of her secrets.
It’s simple really: just a good night’s sleep.
That’s what she told an attentive group of six lucky members of the Loveland Ski Club’s Alpine Race Academy Wednesday during a question-and-answer session hosted by program director and former U.S. team coach John Hale.
“A lot of times I go to sleep at 8:30 or 9 o’clock,” Shiffrin said.
And now when people call her a grandma for her sleep habits, all the two-time World Cup slalom champion has to do is point to her recent Olympic gold medal — what could easily be the first of many for the 19-year-old.
It’s all part of what she described to the group as her “high-performance lifestyle.”
“You always have to think, ‘Am I gaining something?’” she said. Whether it’s the group of friends she chooses to surround herself with, how she’s going to spend her evening or anything in between, she said she’s always thinking about how a decision can help or hurt her athletically.
For a little over an hour the soft-spoken superstar entertained questions from the group while she sat casually on the floor of the lodge with her audience seated around her. She spoke candidly about everything from her approach to training, how she avoids injury and what it’s like being on the U.S. team.
For 14-year-old Mallorie Miller, of Frisco, it was the chance of a lifetime. In addition to asking Shiffrin questions, she also had the opportunity to watch her train for three days.
“It was incredible,” Miller said. “It helps a lot to watch her ski.”
With his ties to the U.S. team, Hale has been able to bring Shiffrin in to speak on a number of occasions.
“She really connects with the kids,” Hale said after the session. “She’s so down to earth.”
With little time off since the Olympics — Shiffrin competed in U.S. Nationals and the remainder of the World Cup season — she’s been back at it, training at both Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas for the last week.
Shiffrin shared lanes late last week at A-Basin with members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association National Training Group and Development Team and spoke to some of the young skiers. She will close the week training at Loveland before taking a well-earned break, which her mother Eileen said Shiffrin plans to spend free-skiing.