KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Mikaela Shiffrin says this isn’t her first Olympics, it’s her thousandth.
That’s how many times she’s played this in her head.
She even imagined herself answering the very questions she was asked Saturday at a press conference at the Gorki Media Center.
“I’ve definitely envisioned myself on the top step of the podium and the third step of the podium, wherever it might be,” said Shiffrin, 18, of Eagle-Vail. “I envisioned myself crashing because I know what mistake I made in my head to crash, and I know I’m not going to do that in a race. … Right now I think I’m the best prepared I could possibly be.”
Shiffrin will compete in the giant slalom Tuesday and the slalom Friday.
“I think there will definitely be more nerves because this means something to the rest of the world, so that also makes it mean something more to me,” she said.
She arrived in Sochi on Friday night and by Saturday afternoon already had done a segment with Natalie Morales of NBC’s “Today” show. She is likely to be featured prominently in the network’s coverage of the next several days.
Last year, Shiffrin had a breakout season, winning the globe for the slalom title as well as the World Championship slalom race in Schladming, Austria.
So far this season, Shiffrin has continued her success of last season. She reached the podium in Beaver Creek, finishing second, for the first time, just miles away from her home. She has won three World Cup slalom races so far this year, and leads the slalom standings.
Shiffrin will face warm conditions this week at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. Temperatures have been in the 50s in the finish area. Shiffrin said she’s ready for it, and won’t use it as an excuse for how she skis.
“As an athlete, as a ski racer, you have to be able to handle everything, and to be a real champion and to win across the board for an extended period of time you have to come up on race day and, no matter what the conditions, fight for the top spot,” she said.
She skied the course several times last year.
“I really like the hill,” she said. “I think it’s awesome that it has a pitch and also a flat and some knolls. It’s got pretty much everything in it, and that makes it really fair for the entire competition.”
Shiffrin’s parents, Jeff and Eileen, are set to arrive in Sochi today. Shiffrin missed the first week of the Olympics, including the opening ceremonies, to spend time training in Italy.