Mikaela Shiffrin carries aura of inevitability all the way to GS gold

From ESPN - February 15, 2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- It's not easy to pinpoint when or how an athlete begins to acquire the aura of inevitability: Tiger Woods at the turn of the century felt inevitable. Michael Phelps at the 2008 Beijing Games. Chloe Kim just a few days ago. Now Mikaela Shiffrin is starting to feel inevitable.

After Shiffrin won gold in the giant slalom Thursday with an aggressive, thrilling second run of 1:09.20, earning a combined time of 2:20.02, her mother, Eileen Shiffrin, told a story that gave a peek into just how inexorable Shiffrin's dominance is beginning to seem to her fellow competitors. Sofia Goggia, who finished Thursday's GS in 11th, had been training with Shiffrin the past few weeks, and in the days leading up to the event, she told NBC analyst Steve Porino that her jaw dropped when she saw Shiffrin's GS training runs.

"That's the gold medal," Goggia told Porino. "We know who the gold medal is."

"When your peer, somebody like Sofia, says something like that, you are like, 'Wow,'" Eileen said.

Keep in mind that Shiffrin, her mother, her coach, Mike Gay, and her sports psychologist, Loren Loberg, all said they considered the GS to be Shiffrin's biggest challenge at these games. "I had a goal that I wanted to come to the next Olympics and be the best GS skier in the world or one of the best GS skiers," Shiffrin said. "There's like 15 girls whose skiing is good enough to win giant slalom."

"The level of GS is off the charts right now," said Eileen, who is also one of Shiffrin's coaches. "This is a big deal for her to win this race, and I think GS is the fundamental event of alpine ski racing."

The weather delays of recent days caused some nerves in the first run, but the quality of the field was showcased in the second half of the event. "I was watching all these girls go down in the second run and attack; everybody wanted gold," Shiffrin told reporters. "It kind of left me no choice but to do the same thing."


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