One of the reasons I love watching the Winter Olympics is that there are so many incredible female athletes to look up to. One of those athletes, who is taking Pyeongchang, South Korea, by storm, is gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who became the youngest athlete in history — male or female — to win an Olympic slalom gold medal at age 18. She stormed back into this Olympics and took home gold in giant slalom in South Korea along with a sliver medal in the alpine combined event, proving she's a force to be reckoned with. Here are seven things you might want to know about this gold-medal winner.
Her Favorite Thing to Eat Is a Pickle
Ever wonder what an Olympic athlete eats? Mikaela told NBC Olympics that her favorite thing to chow down on are pickles — but only Claussen Kosher Dill. She also loves pancakes or waffles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Her Parents Keep Her Organized
Behind every successful athlete is a team of people helping them pave the way. For Mikaela, that team is made up of her mom and her dad. Her parents not only taught her how to ski but they now travel with her. Her mom travels as one of her coaches and her dad spends time working through her schedule, setting up travel, and all the logistics of the lifestyle, she told NBC Olympics.
Her Role Models Are 2 Other Olympians
Wondering who inspires Mikaela? Outside of her own sport, Mikaela told NBC Olympics that the Olympian she looks up to the most is Michael Phelps. But when it comes to skiing, she says Bode Miller is someone she has and will always look up to as her idol.
Her Hidden Talent Is Juggling
A hidden talent of Mikaela's doesn't have anything to do with skiing, but it could get her a job with the circus. Mikaela loves to, and is good at, juggling tennis balls or hacky sacks — just not knives or fireballs.
She Trains Year-Round
Mikaela starts racing every season at the end of October and goes until the middle of March. But after that, she doesn't get off for the rest of the year. She gets a short break and then she's back to training camps and conditioning, she told NBC Olympics.
She Believes in the Power of a Smile
The best advice Mikaela likes to give others, she told NBC Olympics, is about the importance of smiling. She says that smiling releases endorphins in your brain that actually make you feel happier, so no matter what is going on, she wants people to try to remember to smile.
She Has a Signature Sticker
Mikaela wears a sticker on her helmet that reads ABFTTB (Always Be Faster Than the Boys). It was inspired by three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker, who wrote the acronym on a poster she autographed for her when she was 6 years old.
To learn more about Mikaela, visit Team USA. The Winter Olympics air live, beginning Feb 8.