Monday, on her 22nd birthday, Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin gave an interesting answer that leads to more questions about the superstar’s future in ski racing.
“To be honest, I’m still not totally sure that skiing is my purpose,” Shiffrin said. “I think I have multiple purposes, and that’s one of the most exciting things about being young and having the success that I’ve had is that I may be able to explore those other purposes some day.”
Shiffrin already has 31 World Cup victories to her name, including two over the weekend in Squaw Valley, California. A three-time reigning slalom World Champion and 2014 Olympic gold medalist, Shiffrin likely will win her first overall World Cup title this weekend at the Finals in Aspen.
She was one of a handful of big name stars to talk Monday at Casa Tua in Aspen during a panel hosted by Oakley titled “Obsession x Innovation Exchange.”
“Along the lines of obsession, ever since I was little I loved skiing and I never really knew why. I was just passionate about it,” Shiffrin said. “The obsession for me is just feeling like every day I made some breakthrough, no matter how big or small it is.”
Shiffrin locked up the slalom title last weekend in California — her fourth in five years in the discipline — and sits 80 points back of France’s Tessa Worley in the giant slalom standings with only Sunday’s race remaining.
Shiffrin leads Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec by a comfortable 378 points in the chase for the overall title.
Sitting next to Shiffrin on the panel was Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, who trails only Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark for most career World Cup victories (86 to 77). Also on the panel Monday were Erik Guay, Canada’s all-time career leader in World Cup wins, and the Norwegian duo of Aksel Lund Svindal and Henrik Kristoffersen.
Svindal, 34, is a two-time overall World Cup champion (2007, 2009) who won Olympic gold in super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He is sitting out the Finals this week as he recovers from knee surgery. This didn’t stop him from stealing the spotlight, however, his harmless banter with the others leading to plenty of laughs from the packed, invite-only room.
“There is something about skiing that is keeping people grounded,” Svindal said. “If you just like winning, then you aren’t going to be good at it. You have to love skiing, because there is a lot of skiing that has nothing to do with winning.”
Non-athletes on the panel included Wayne Chumbley, the performance testing manager for Oakley Vision, and Lyndsay Young, a physical therapist for the U.S. Ski Team. ESPN senior writer Alyssa Roenigk moderated the event.
“For me, I don’t normally do events like this at Finals,” Vonn said. “When we all do it together, then it makes it worthwhile.”