Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

Mikaela Shiffrin Replaces Lindsey Vonn as American Face of Winter Olympics

Mikaela Shiffrin Replaces Lindsey Vonn as American Face of Winter Olympics

She was moved to tears over the memory of her late grandfather, but Lindsey Vonn vowed to win gold in honor of the man she calls her ski racing inspiration at PyeongChang 2018.

"It was very windy from behind on the track, I took the good wind with me, it blew me down!" said the 33-year-old Innerhofer. Last weekend, she won a pair of World Cup downhill races at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, the latest indication that she is fit and fearless again. In December, her paternal grandfather, Don Kildow, died.

"Yeah, um, I'm not sure where to start, exactly", Shiffrin said, rolling her eyes a bit as she searched for the right words.

"I'm definitely going to ski another season after this", she said.

"It's extremely flattering, but I don't see it - it's apples and oranges".

The 22-year-old slalom gold medalist from Sochi has racked up 10 World Cup victories this season but has managed to reach the podium just once in her last six races, a disappointing dip she attributed to fatigue. "But I know he's watching, and I know that he's going to help me, and I'm going to win for him". I miss him so much, he's been such a big part of my life.

How the Winter Olympics will miss her, a bonefide, full-bore, max blonde, Hollywood turn, who happens to be pretty good on skis, too. "Last weekend was just the icing on the cake".

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She said the the pressure is even greater now because this is her last Games and "because I want to end on a high note". When I get mentally exhausted, I just get more emotional.

"I obviously have been waiting a very long time for these Olympics", Vonn said.

Denied her presence in Sochi four years ago through injury, the organisers gave her star billing here in a packed session that justified the indulgence.

"In Lenzerheide I was emotional and crying and frustrated and not really myself so that was a sign to me that I was just a little bit too exhausted", she said of her final giant slalom World Cup race before the Games, where she finished seventh. "I know what I am capable of and I can handle myself better than I did", she said.

"I would like to compete in everything", she said.

Risk tolerance. Vonn's body would be in better shape if she didn't tolerate so much risk. Before Vonn headed back onto the World Cup circuit last fall, she made what has become an annual sojourn back to their simple house, where she sleeps on a house in the basement. For the ski hill. "I was questioning whether I was going to bring her here because it was a long trip, but she's always with me so I figured I need her for the most important event". My main focus this year was exclusively on the Olympics and I'm very happy with how I feel physically, mentally.

Vonn said her increased mental strength really comes into play when she's in the starting gate.

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