Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Sometimes Sings a Classic Children's Song in Her Head While Competing

The two-time gold medalist tells Lester Holt she doesn't have a "specific routine" for races, but this past season one song became a constant

Mikaela Shiffrin has an accidental ritual when it comes to her events.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt, airing Friday night in full as part of the network's ongoing Olympic coverage, skier Shiffrin talks about how she's feeling when she's at the top of a mountain, waiting for a race to start.

"Is there a mantra when you're at the gate, ready to take off?" Holt asks in an exclusive preview of the interview.

Responds the 26-year-old, "I don't have a specific routine. Sometimes I have a song stuck in my head. For a lot of last season, it was that children's song 'On Top of Spaghetti.' "

"That's as you're at the gate?" questions Lester, to which Shiffrin responds, "Yeah," before starting to sing, "On top of spaghetti."

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"Like no, get out, get out, get out," she laughs.

The two-time Olympic Gold medalist is set to compete in five events this Games — the slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and alpine — and is expected to lead the pack in most of those.

Asked by Holt if she ever gets scared competing at the Olympic level, Shiffrin answers, "Fear is a very real and actually helpful thing. it's important for me to not run away from that fear but embrace that it is actually something that keeps me more alert."

But where is "the fun" in it, Holt wonders? Says Shiffrin: "The fun in it is when I ski well, I make really good turns. That's not a feeling you get doing anything else in life."

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Shiffrin spoke about the sudden death of her father in February 2020, and how she's moved through her grief.

"It's taken so long just to get to this point," Shiffrin told PEOPLE. "I'm not even close to being done grieving, but every day I feel that spark and motivation returning. It's like healing from an injury. You get to the point where you can race again, but it still hurts sometimes."

"I've learned you have to live your life and do the things you like and be who you are," said Shiffrin. "I'm getting my fire back ... With every day that passes, I'm able to put more energy back into skiing."

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt airs at 6:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. CST on NBC.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning Feb 3, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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