The pressure on Mikaela Shiffrin is intense.
The U.S. skier went to PyeongChang with talk of an unprecedented five gold medals in alpine skiing events around her. For perspective, Lindsey Vonn has a grand total of one Olympic gold medal, and she’s laid claim to the title of world’s greatest skier for most of her career.
Shiffrin succeeded in her first attempt on Thursday, scoring gold in the giant slalom to kick off her Winter Games.
But she came up short in her best event Friday, failing to make the podium with a fourth-place finish during Friday’s slalom.
To make matters worse, a public vomiting spell became a story after she backtracked on claiming illness to explain that her nerves got to her before the race.
“I think it’s more my own expectations, knowing the magnitude of what I’m trying to do,” she said after the slalom. “It’s less about what everyone wants to see. When I get into the start gate, it’s about what I want to accomplish. Today, I didn’t feel I was up to the challenge when I was skiing. It was a big disappointment.”
Shiffrin pulled out of Saturday’s Super-G after weather postponements packed the races too close for her to compete in five events, but she still has realistic shots at gold in the downhill and combined events, which would be an extraordinary achievement.
With her Olympics halfway done and the spotlight about to shine even brighter with a Wednesday showdown with Vonn in the downhill looming, Shiffrin poured her heart out on her Twitter and Instagram accounts Saturday.
That’s a refreshing moment of perspective coming from an elite Olympic athlete with an uncommon drive to win.
Just being at the Olympics in a country halfway around the world is a remarkable experience. That she won gold in her first event is a significant life accomplishment that should have and evidently was properly appreciated and celebrated. Even if that ends up being her only gold in PyeongChang, she doesn’t owe anybody else an apology or explanation.
And good for her for recognizing that. It’s a perspective that might help her pick up some more hardware before the Games are over.