(Reuters) – Two-times Olympic alpine skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin said she will be more comfortable with the weight of expectation on her shoulders at next year’s Beijing Olympics.
The 26-year-old slalom specialist went to Pyeongchang 2018 tipped as a potential gold medallist in multiple events but ended up with only the giant slalom title.
With the season under way and the focus inevitably falling on the looming Games, the American will again be one of the favourites in several disciplines.
It will be her third Games having burst on to the scene at the Sochi Olympics where she stormed to slalom gold, and the American said she hopes to take previous, very different, experiences into Beijing.
“It’s changed over the years,” Shiffrin, speaking to Eurosport’s Winter Pass show, said when asked what the Olympics meant to her. “When I first started, my first Olympics… of course I wanted a gold medal.
“I thought that was possible. I didn’t really see how big it could be if that happened until after.
“Then going into the second Olympics, in South Korea, I had a much better understanding of how it works as an athlete when you win gold, how that can change your career and how much more attention you get…
“But also more expectations and pressure from a lot of people who don’t necessarily pay attention to your sport outside of the Olympics.”
Shiffrin said the hype at Pyeongchang made her uncomfortable.
“It’s a lot more pressure to be there. So, I felt that in the second Olympics, and this time around it’s going to be a mix,” she said.
Shiffrin has won 45 World Cup slalom races, one behind the record for a single discipline owned by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (giant slalom).
Having been beaten by Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova in two slalom races in Levi, Finland, last weekend, Shiffrin will have another chance to equal Stenmark in Killington this weekend.
“It’s a home race and I want to do well and have a good record there. There’s some expectations, some pressure, but it’s always exciting to race in Killington,” Shiffrin said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)