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Armour: Mikaela Shiffrin Aims for More Gold in Pyeongchang

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Mikaela Shiffrin, USA, holds up the crystal globe trophy as she celebrates her World Cup slalom championship on Aspen Mountain on March 18, 2017 in Aspen, Colorado. Shiffrin, took second in the race but the overall World Cup slalom title. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

Ever since she won the gold medal in slalom at the Sochi Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin has been asked what it feels like.

It’s been almost four years, and she still doesn’t have a good answer.

“It’s an incredible, incredible feeling. Surreal. Almost indescribable,” Shiffrin said Monday during the U.S. Olympic Committee’s media summit. “To this day, I still haven’t really had a chance to let it sink in.”

She does, however, have an answer for that.

“Go to South Korea and win some more!” Shiffrin cracked.

While that drew laughs from the crowd, it’s no joke. Shiffrin has established herself as the world’s most dominant skier in the three years since Sochi. She has won three consecutive slalom titles at the world championships, the first woman to accomplish the feat since 1939. She won her first overall World Cup last season, only the fifth American to do so.

Her 11 World Cup victories last season gave her 31 overall, more before the age of 22 than even Ingmar Stenmark.

Oh, and she’s begun to branch out into the speed events. She just missed the podium in the Super-G in January at Cortina, Italy. A month later, she won the super combined in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

“When I go to South Korea, I’ll be planning to compete in three or four events,” Shiffrin said. “If I compete in four events, it’s because I think I have a shot to win a medal in four events. That will be my goal, results wise.”

The slalom and giant slalom are givens, of course. Shiffrin said her third race would likely be the combined and then maybe the Super-G.

While her Olympic schedule is dependent on how much training she gets in the speed events earlier in the season — switching between the speed and technical events is not as easy as, say, switching from butterfly to freestyle in the pool — it will also depend on the other American women.

Countries get a maximum of four spots in each of the Alpine disciplines. Lindsey Vonn was second in both the downhill and Super-G during the test events on the Pyeongchang course last March, while Laurenne Ross was fifth in the downhill and sixth in the Super-G.

“We have a really strong speed team. Especially for that track,” Shiffrin said. “If there are four other girls who have the better shot at medaling in the Super-G, than they would be much more likely to race Super-G than I would. That’s going to be decided based on the races prior.”

And downhill?

“I want to, it looks amazing,” Shiffrin said. “And I’m not going to say definitely no. But, again, it’s the same thing. We have a very stacked downhill team.”

Shiffrin famously said in Sochi that she hoped to win five gold medals at a Games. Or, as she describes it now, “I want the world and to be king of the universe and all those things.”

While she’s tempered those expectations for these Games, she’s still looking to bring home more gold.

And an answer to that question everyone asks.

By Nancy Armour

This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

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