Alpine Skiing

Mikaela Shiffrin in hunt for more success at Cortina 2021: My only tactic is to 'go for gold'

In Cortina the five-time world champion will compete in four events, making her comeback in Super G for the first time after one year.

By Alessandro Poggi ·

Mikaela Shiffrin knows well that only one thing matters at the ski World Championships: winning.

And her score in her four previous worlds has been pretty amazing: in nine starts, she's won seven medals and five golds.

This season, the double Olympic champion might not perform at the standards she was used too in the last few campaigns (she currently sits only in seventh position in the overall World Cup standings), but that doesn't mean her approach will change ahead of the event starting in Cortina next week:

"When you ski at a big event, you go for a medal, you go for gold. That's the only tactic," she said during a press conference via Zoom.

"Whether or not I get any medals, that's still the same tactic, the same mentality, and I think it really boils down to 'I know that I have the capability to ski really fast, and if I do, I know I have the capability to win'."

Shiffrin revealed that this has been her mentality since talking with her teammate Steve Nyman at her first world championships in 2013 in Schladming, Austria.

"He said, 'World championships, there's one goal. You go for gold. That's it. Everybody has the same exact mentality. Everybody, that's what you do. That's world championships and the Olympics. That's what you do'," she recalls.

"Every world championship since then, whether I'm nervous or I'm feeling great, it doesn't matter" - Mikaela Shiffrin

Shiffrin won two golds and one bronze at the last world championships in Are, Sweden.

Different position, same pressure

Shiffrin made her competitive comeback in November after spending 10 months without racing, following the sudden death of her father Jeff one year ago.

Despite six podiums and two wins during this World Cup campaign, the three-time overall globe winner faces a different scenario compared to her previous experiences at the Worlds:

"I definitely am in a different position with season standings than I've ever been going into world championships," she admitted.

But in terms of pressure, nothing has really changed:

"In a way, there's less pressure at the world champs than even at World Cup races because you're not protecting something, but at the same time, you feel it's a big event."

"At this point, I won a few medals at the world champs now so I don't feel like it's my only opportunity to win the only medal of my career.

"And that's a nice thing to not have the pressure, to feel like 'I have to win a gold medal because I haven't done it yet'."

Shiffrin raced her last Super G event one year ago in Bansko, Bulgaria.

Back racing in speed after one year

This season, the 25-year-old has decided to focus only on the technical disciplines, giant slalom and slalom, in order to have more time to train and regain her past form.

At Cortina 2021, she will compete in a speed event for the first time after a year away, as she will also race the Super G and the Combined (Super G + Slalom).

"That's the most races I've ever done at the World Champs," Shiffrin said.

"My biggest goal and the reason that I wanted to try to race Super G in the world champs is because I can get World Cup start points, which will allow me to maintain some sort of start position in Super G. So it's maybe a little bit more of a tactical approach than anything."

The five-time world champion said she only had three Super G training sessions so far, but she's slowly getting her confidence back:

"I feel comfortable on the skis, and it's super fun!"

"I'm not going in to ‘defend my [Super G] title’." - Mikaela Shiffrin

Shiffrin won four consecutive slalom titles at the world championships

'Five-peat? I don't care!'

Two years ago at the worlds in Are, Sweden, Shiffrin grabbed her fourth-straight slalom title, becoming the first skier to win four consecutive golds in a single discipline.

But it's not records that the skier from Vail is after:

"I don't care about the five-peat, I didn't know about it when it was a three-peat, I wasn't paying attention when it was a four-peat because I was the most sick I've ever been...

"What I've heard about this slalom hill, the track and Cortina, is that it's steep and challenging, and I'm really looking forward to skiing that hill. And that's what I'm looking forward to."

Shiffrin inspecting the course during the women's Super G on January 21, 2018 in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Cortina, my love

Shiffrin holds fond memories of Cortina.

In 2018, she made a World Cup podium in her first downhill on the iconic course of the Olympia delle Tofane, and one year later, she won a Super G race

"I felt pretty good about this track. I felt like I had a good connection with it," she said.

"It has some fairly high speed sections, but enough challenge that it also brings in definitely a technical aspect."

"I don't know what is is about it, it's just beautiful, the atmosphere all around the town, the track is just really unique. The landscape is gorgeous, when you're skiing down, you're like 'focus on the course, because everywhere you look it's a beautiful view'!"

Asked if she imagines herself skiing in Cortina in 2026 for the Winter Olympics, Shiffrin - who will be 31 - left a door open:

"We are in 2021 right now. I don't know if I can. We're going to have to get a little bit closer, let's say, let's get through the next Olympics and we can talk then!

"I could see myself skiing this track forever, to be honest, but I also don't see myself skiing forever, so we'll see."