The 21-year-old Vail, Colorado native has already won Olympic gold, back-to-back world championships in 2013 and ’15, and 19 World Cup slalom races—just 16 shy of the all-time record. Here, Shiffrin shares tales from the road, her celebrity crushes, and why the prospect of her best friend attending a race freaks her out more than schussing down solid ice at 70 mph.
THE RED BULLETIN: You drive an Audi Q7. How fast have you gone?
MIKAELA SHIFFRIN: Probably 95 mph in the U.S. On the Autobahn, maybe 140, but not for very long. And that was in the Q6.
I don’t have one right now.
You must field some interesting pickup lines from fans. Do any stand out?
I went to talk to some kids at the Loveland Ski Club in Colorado, and this boy was 12 or 13 at the time. He said, “You smell like fruit.” He wasn’t close enough to smell me, but I always remember him. It’s one of the better compliments I’ve received. Of course, I’ve also gotten “Will You Marry Me?” a couple of times, but that’s the first line anyone gets when they win a race. I’m like, “No, but thanks?”
What kind of thoughts go through your head while skiing down ice at 70 mph?
There’s definitely adrenaline, but it’s harder when I’m in the start gate. I have to take a couple deep breaths and get really psyched up to go. It’s not that scary when you’re doing it, because the skis are super stable so you don’t really feel the speed.
Who would make you most nervous before a race if you knew they were in the stands?
Probably my best friend, Bug. The other day she told me she might be able to come to our race at Killington this winter, and I was like, “Oh God!” After everything I’ve handled in terms of pressure, my best friend will come and I’ll break down.
We hear you like to play tennis. If you could play a friendly game with any pro on the planet, who would it be?
Probably Federer or Djokovic. I’ve seen Djokovic play these little games with his hitting partner to warm up, and he’s doing easy drop shots and having a blast. It looks hilarious.
You’ve played the piano since you were little. Who’s your favorite classical composer?
Ludovico Einaudi. I have 42 of his songs and can play two or three of them. They’re beautiful melodies. It’s like listening to someone tell a story.
Name a TV show you’ve binge-watched.
“Bones”. There was one summer week when the two main characters, Bones and Booth, were starting to get together, and I was really excited about it. I worked out in the morning, then watched “Bones” for three hours, then I worked out in the afternoon, then watched four more hours of “Bones”.
Favorite place you’ve ever visited?
Maui. It’s humid and I can feel my skin sucking in the moisture. I’m sandy the entire time I’m there.
Dog person or cat person?
Both. I have a cat. She’s very fat. Her name is Muffin.
We hear you’re learning German. Say something to us in German.
“Die piste ist schwierig.” It means: “The course is really difficult.”
Got a Hollywood crush?
Leonardo DiCaprio. Or Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven—I was like, oh my gosh, who is this man? Or Zac Efron. I also like Ryan Reynolds and Chris Hemsworth.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Jennifer Lawrence. She seems so funny. Or Adele. I went to one of her concerts, and same sort of thing [as Lawrence]: witty, quick humor, super real. They’re able to make fun of themselves; they don’t care if they look good or bad. I think that’s a rare trait.