USA ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the stars to watch when the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, begin Feb. 8 on NBC. In fact, the reigning Olympic slalom gold-medal winner is arguably America’s brightest star at the XXII Olympic Winter Games. Here are a few fun facts about the 22-year-old Vail, Colo., native.
1. #ABFTTB (“Always Be Faster Than The Boys”)
Legend has it that when Shiffrin was six years old, her parents gifted her an autographed poster of three-time U.S. Olympic alpine skier Heidi Voelker. The poster was reportedly inscribed, “Dream big, Mikaela, and always be faster than the boys.” Shiffrin has since made ABFTTB her motto, writing the acronym on her helmets and skis. The slogan is even featured in an upcoming Super Bowl LII commercial, rightfully proclaimed Shiffrin as the “Best of U.S.” heading into the Olympics.
2. Youngest slalom gold medalist in Olympic history
At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Shiffrin became the youngest slalom gold medalist in Olympic alpine skiing history, at 18 years and 345 days old. Despite nearly falling in her second run (see: GIF above), Shiffrin held on to take the top prize. The daughter of two competitive ski racers (mother, Eileen, and father, Jeff), Mikaela was taught to juggle at age six and ride a unicycle at age seven — to help coordination and balance. With a gold medal on the line, Shiffrin’s training produced results.
3. Listens to Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” before races
Shiffrin has boldly claimed that her goal is five Olympic gold medals in PyeongChang. She has a shot in the slalom, giant slalom, downhill, Super G and combined (downhill and slalom). There’s a good chance she will be listening to Eminem’s heartfelt song “Guts Over Fear” (featuring Sia) before those races. “So here I am and I will not run / Guts over feat, the time is here / Guts over fear, I shall not tear.”
4. Considers herself a “professional sleeper”
Shiffrin is anything but a slacker. After all, she has already matched Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proll’s ski-race record of 41 World Cup wins before her 23rd birthday and is on pace to chase down Lindsey Vonn’s career mark of 79 World Cup wins (and counting). But Shiffrin does enjoy a good nap, claiming she can fall asleep anywhere and everywhere — including a ski chairlift.
5. BFF with Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin
One of the millions of fans cheering for Shiffrin in the Olympics will be fellow 22-year-old Olympic prodigy Missy Franklin, who won five medals (four gold) as a 17-year-old swimmer at the 2012 London Olympics. “The moment I met Miki, I knew I had a friend for life,” Franklin told NBC Sports. The two met in Shiffrin’s hometown of Vail, Colo., when Franklin was on vacation. “I felt like we were laughing all night,” Shiffrin said.