TIME

INSIDE THE RACING MIND OF THE BEST SKIER ON EARTH

Mikaela Shiffrin is ready to set records in PyeongChang
Shiffrin during her ’17 world championship slalom race; she’s chasing five Olympic medals

“YOU WANT ME TO SAY SOMETHING THAT I CAN’T. I don’t do guarantees, and I’m not gonna start now just so you can bet on me. I have no idea how I’m gonna feel on race day. I only know that right now, I’m happy, I’m skiing fast, and I’m having FUN.”

ONE HOUR BEFORE RACING DOWN A mountain in Flachau, Austria, in early January, the 22-year-old American skier Mikaela Shiffrin typed those words on her phone. It was a text message to herself, a way of coping with the potentially crushing expectations that come with being the most dominant all-around skier in the world and a favorite to win multiple gold medals at the Winter Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The texts help Shiffrin focus on the present rather than fretting over the future, allowing her prodigious talent to nudge aside her sometimes crippling anxiety.

It worked in Austria. Shiffrin trailed after her first run, but she rallied in the second to win the event, becoming the first woman or man in two decades to win five straight World Cup races. “I can also tell you,” she wrote in that same message, “I’m equipped to handle dang near anything that can possibly come my way.”

Much is riding on those

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