Olympic Ski Hopeful Mikaela Shiffrin's Unusual Pre-Competition Prep: Napping

Mikaela Shiffrin may only be 22, but the Olympic gold medalist and World Cup overall champion alpine skier already has a secret to her competition success: naps

Mikaela Shiffrin may only be 22, but she’s already found herself on the top of the skiing world. Her World Cup overall champion win earlier this month grants her the bragging rights of being the best alpine skier on the planet.

She’s no stranger to wins either — having made Olympic history at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics as the youngest slalom gold medalist ever (she was just 18 at the time).

So what’s the secret to Shiffrin’s success? Naps!

“Rest is big for me,” Shiffrin told Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday’s Today. “I have to get a full night of sleep and a nap pretty much every day in order to perform at the level that I want to.”

If there were a gold medal for napping, “probably I would win it,” she joked.

2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals - Ladies' Giant Slalom & Mens' Slalom
Tom Pennington/Getty

The skier’s love of napping means she sometimes finds herself snoozing minutes before a match. “I don’t bring a mattress to the start, but I have laid down in the snow — just closed my eyes and tried to pretend I’m somewhere else like Hawaii,” she said. “And then I fall asleep and someone has to wake me up like, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ ”

Shiffrin was actually napping when she found out about her recent World Cup win.

“With the overall globe or these season titles, it’s an accumulation of points you gain winning races or performing in races throughout the year. So by the end of the year, a lot of times the globes are actually decided before the last race — and I found out that my biggest competitor was not going to be racing the last race of the season,” she explained. “[My mom] texted me, ‘Are you awake?’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, now I am!’ And then she said, ‘Congrats on the globe.’ And I was like, ‘Okay but we shouldn’t talk about that yet because I still want to do well these last races.’ ”

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Now that she’s accomplished her goal of being the best in the world, Shiffrin is focusing all of her energy onto the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.

“I’m excited,” she said of the Games. “It’s going to be so cool to go back to the Olympics now that I’ve gotten a feel what it’s like. I know what the whole summer entails leading up to the Olympics. There’s a lot more media, a lot more hype. It’s one of those things like an athlete — we don’t get a ton of coverage all the time. But when the Olympics roll around, I feel important.”

Just hope Shiffrin gets her rest. “I can get pretty loopy when I don’t nap,” she said. “It’s actually fun for everyone — it’s more fun. When I’m not so focused on the job and I’m actually kind of getting distracted.”

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