As the winter Olympics close in, get used to hearing the name Mikaela Shiffrin -- A LOT. The alpine ski racer is one of the stars of the U.S. Olympic team. Time magazine just called her the best skier in the world. And she'll even have her own Super Bowl commercial on Sunday. Nick Paumgarten from the New Yorker spent time with the skier and her family over the past year to find out what makes them tick, and where her talent comes from. From his story:
I first heard of Shiffrin the winter of her first World Cup race. Ski-racing people spoke of her with the same astonishment that greeted the kid-phenom incarnations of Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods. Once she hit the tour, I tuned in when I could, eager to see a manifestation of genius. What I saw was a skier who looked flawless and smooth but not revolutionary or enthralling. She was so good at going fast that she didn’t look fast. Technique disguised athleticism.
Did I know what to look for?
Paumgarten tells Colorado Matters that he presumed Shiffrin’s talent was “innate,” but found out that’s not the case. She has incredible athletic ability, and she’s been on skis since she was a toddler. But her training is what sets her apart. She trains obsessively, constantly. “Skiers have long been psycho about their off-season workouts,” he writes in The New Yorker. “In the old days, they chopped wood, baled hay, ran up and down mountains, and rode motorcycles at a hundred miles an hour. Now they train like astronauts.”