Mikaela Shiffrin Talks About Winning Pressure And How She Handles It

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Sarah Haider

American Alpine Ski Racer Mikaela Shiffrin, who is famous for winning the Olympic gold medal twice, has recently opened up about handling the pressure to win at all costs.

According to PEOPLE magazine, Shiffrin, who — apart from being an Olympic gold medalist — has also won the Overall World Cup championship thrice, the World Cup discipline title six times, and has also been a four-time world champion in slalom skiing, said that she has to undergo a lot of stress to win titles.

Continue reading to find out how she handles the pressure.

Handling the ‘Twisties’

Speaking to PEOPLE, the 26-year-old sportswoman said when athletes are under too much pressure to win matches and performances, they experience a phenomenon called “twisties.”

Per the report, the term was first coined by American gymnast Simone Biles, who suffered from it during the Tokyo Olympics. She told reporters that the experience makes gymnasts “lose their understanding of where they are in the air.”

According to Shiffrin, it doesn’t only happen with gymnasts but all athletes have experienced the phenomenon at some level.

"For some sports, it means you miss the goal, and for some sports, it means you land on your neck instead of your feet, or you fall as you're racing down an icy mountain. And maybe some sports have a little higher risk, but the pressure is always there,” she told the publication.

Mental Health And Obstacles

Mikaela Shiffrin told the publication that when there is too much pressure on athletes to win, they suffer from mental health issues which is hard for others to understand.

Citing the example of Simone Biles once again, who had withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics in the middle of the Games to focus on her mental health, Shiffrin said that when an athlete like Biles talks about the importance of mental health for sportspersons, it makes it “easier to navigate life in and out of her sport.”

“Having one of the most recognized and biggest voices in sports right now talk about this and show how real it is to [struggle], ... it makes it a little bit easier to talk about," Shiffrin told PEOPLE.

“It gives all of us athletes the ability to say, 'Oh, you're not alone feeling that way. I'm not the only one who feels pressure.'”

Focus On Improvement

Speaking about her 70th career win at the World Cup ski opener in October last year, Shiffrin said that she tries to focus on improving her performance instead of focusing on the number of times she has won, adding that she does not like to let numbers define her.

“It's an amazing number, it's a cool statistic, it definitely makes me smile, but at the end of the day, the thing that's gotten me to this point is focusing on my skiing, improving and just skiing faster and always pushing that limit," she told the publication.

"So I'm more thinking about, like, my skiing and constantly trying to improve there, then counting the victories,” she told PEOPLE.

Feeling Proud

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Talking to PEOPLE, Mikaela Shiffrin said that while she wants to beat fellow ski champion Ingemar Stenmar’s record of 86 wins, she feels proud of whatever she has achieved so far and does not allow numbers to drive her crazy.

She said that when an athlete employs their entire energy on breaking someone’s else’s records, they can end up feeling disappointed for the rest of their lives if they don’t do so.

The athlete, therefore, focuses on her achievements rather than obsessing with breaking records.

"But at the end of the day ... my whole career, it's been successful. It's been highs and lows but I'm really proud of it. And I'm still racing. I'm not done yet, but I can look back and feel proud already."