The demand for Mikaela Shiffrin’s versatile range isn’t solely reserved for the slopes, where she’s capable of winning World Cup downhills and slaloms on any given occasion. The Edwards superstar is getting used to answering a wide swath of media questions, too.
At Thursday’s Atomic media day in Altenmarkt, Austria, the 28-year-old fielded predictable inquiries about her offseason reset and new-season goals after surpassing Ingemar Stenmark for the most career World Cup Alpine skiing wins last March. She also relayed what she told tennis star Iga Swiatek after the 22-year-old dropped from the No. 1 world ranking. As if that wasn’t enough of a press conference potpourri, she explained how her dancing hobby translates to on-snow success.
“It’s just like an expression of your body,” she said regarding the latter topic. “Everybody has a style of skiing; I think everybody also has a little bit of a style of dancing. I tend to be pretty stiff with my arms when I’m skiing, and when I’m dancing, it’s the same, so it’s things that sort of translate across just the way your body moves.”
On Sept. 16, she and her boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde posted a spontaneously choreographed music video to ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” made during a training camp in Chile while dressed in their respective American and Norwegian race kits and Atomic ski boots. The Instagram post elicited a response from fellow Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins, whose social-media pages are filled with similar impromptu dance sessions.
Did she expect it to go viral?
“Yes. That’s why we did it,” Shiffrin joked during the media day, with Kilde at her side. Kilde, who won six World Cup downhill races en route to his second-straight discipline globe, was asked about his first in-person meeting with Austrian legend Hermann Maier.
“I was kind of feeling like a kid again,” he said. “The most fun was to talk about different races — talk about Kitzbuhel, talking about Lake Louise, Beaver Creek.”
Shiffrin said meeting Maier was “a full fan moment” for her as well.
She was then asked about what it meant to be named to TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list of 2023.
“That kind of recognition is actually pretty hard for me to understand or fathom,” she said, adding that her highlight was meeting people at the actual event. “There’s people in the world who are doing much greater things than I am. And for me, it’s just inspiring to see how they manage themselves, how they put themselves out there, and how they fight for incredible things.”
During an offseason that also saw her awarded the ESPY for best female athlete, Shiffrin came into contact with multiple celebrities, including Swiatek. In advance of the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards (both were nominated for Sportswoman of the Year), the pair chatted on Instagram about how the rise to fame has made trusting people difficult. On Thursday, Shiffrin was asked if she’s since met up with Swiatek in person. Shiffrin said she hasn’t, but does text her and would love to see the Polish star in a match at some point.
“I don’t know if she feels this way, but what I see is, I don’t know, modesty — but then a security in herself that you don’t often see with athletes so young that also have the success,” Shiffrin said of Swiatek. “I didn’t know who the heck I was — I still kind of don’t — and somehow she just seems like she has certain things that are straight in her head. The answers she has now, already in her career, I wish I had those at that time in mine.”
Swiatek was ranked No. 1 in the world for 75 weeks, but is currently No. 2.
“What I said to her is, ‘Whatever, that’s coming back,’” Shiffrin said regarding losing the top ranking. “It’s the mentality that you have that’s unbeatable, so just keep going.”
After winning 14 races and racking up a career-best 2,206 World Cup points in 2023, she was asked if it “was difficult to shut down after the season and start with the basics again” after all the records, numbers, and questions.
“I’m not sure. Maybe I just still didn’t shut down yet. Now that you ask that question, I might have done the whole summer wrong,” she said. “I think sometimes it’s nice to keep going.”
Kilde then hopped in, explaining that for both athletes, being in familiar places with family is how the couple resets. Shiffrin mentioned spending time at his summer cabin in Norway; they’ve also spent time in Edwards.
“There is a reset, and you get some distance from the sport, I just don’t really like thinking about it,” she added. “We did our thing, and now we’re back and excited to race again.”
The 2023-24 World Cup season kicks off Oct. 28-29 in Soelden, Austria. When asked whether she has a specific goal after accomplishing what she did last season, Shiffrin answered, “Actually, no.”
“I would like to maybe, ideally, improve my downhill performance a little bit more, but that doesn’t really mean winning. It’s just improving the skills that I think have fundamental but can get better,” she continued.
“Also, super-G, as well. And then with slalom and GS, the coolest thing for me last season was I felt a consistency with my skiing and my mentality that I never really felt before. So that was just exciting to go into each race feeling pretty excited to actually race. So hopefully, a big goal is to try and keep that mentality going.”