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Why Mikaela Shiffrin Had The Best 2018

By Blythe Lawrence | Dec. 27, 2018, 8 a.m. (ET)

Mikaela Shiffrin reacts after a run at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup women's downhill on Dec. 2, 2018 in Lake Louise, Canada.

You know you’re had a good year when the Olympic medals are only the beginning of your accomplishments. 

So it goes for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Podium by podium, the “Mozart of skiing” has continued building her legacy as one of the finest skiers of all time. The smiling teen who became the youngest Olympic slalom champion in history in Sochi arrived in PyeongChang in February a formidable woman capable of challenging for gold on every course on the mountain.

2018 will go down as the year she added gold in the giant slalom and silver in the alpine combined at the Olympic Winter Games. Doing so, Shiffrin not only joined Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence as the only Americans to claim two Olympic golds in alpine skiing, but she also announced herself as a downhill threat as well as master of the giant slalom en route to winning her second consecutive overall world cup title.

Had circumstances played out differently, there might have been even more glory. Entered in five events in PyeongChang, she withdrew from the downhill and super-G after weather conditions caused officials to change the race schedule. Shiffrin, who as a point of pride arrives ultra-prepared for every race, felt the change could affect her skiing and opted not to race. 

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Time is on her side: With two or even perhaps three Games left in her provided she remains healthy, the now-23-year-old Shiffrin is on target to break the three gold barrier in alpine skiing, something no athlete has ever accomplished. And the two medals she got are pretty nice, anyway.

“It’s pretty nice to have two more Olympic medals,” Shiffrin commented to The New York Times after all was said and done at the Games. “And my other big goal was to prove that I could branch out and not just be a slalom skier. For me, it is huge to know that I can now put down fast times in pretty much any event and contend for medals in multiple events.”

It’s a promise she’s carried into the post-Olympic season. In December, she won her first super-G world cup race in Lake Louise, Alberta, becoming only the seventh woman to take world cup wins in all five traditional alpine ski disciplines. She’s the only skier of either gender ever to have won all six events, including the still nascent parallel slalom, which plays to both her natural talents and competitive nature. 

In the 10 races she’s entered so far this season, Shiffrin has won six. With 50 career victories on the world cup circuit — including a record-tying 35th slalom win  — Shiffrin is a contender to one day to break the all-time record of 86 held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

Her ambition runs deep. Great as 2018 was, her best years may still be ahead.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Mikaela Shiffrin

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