Shiffrin was also listening when Caeleb Dressel, swimming's top swimmer, revealed how "terrifying" it was, having finished first in five races at Summer Games. "Your whole life boils down into one moment.
Shiffrin observed: "He won all the gold medals in Tokyo, and like, STILL felt this way."
The 26-year old from Colorado felt empathy for other athletes and had open conversations about mental health. She began to think about the Beijing Olympics where she will be competing in five races. Next Monday's giant Slalom is Shiffrin's first race. This was the event that she won at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
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The physical aspect of what she will need to do on the slopes is also important. How she will prepare for competition. What she will need to do to recover afterward. The psychological aspect of it all comes down to how you absorb or divert the stress and anxiety that result from the expectations of everyone.
Everybody expects that every time she enters the start gate, regardless of the event or preparations, she will win the race. It's a very unrealistic expectation. She has dealt with it her whole career, to some extent, but clearly, more recently in the last few years she has shown dominance," Mike Day, Shiffrin’s main coach with U.S. Ski Team, said.
It's something we must be aware of. Day stated that it is a great deal of pressure to be the face of an Olympic team or a country at an international event such as this. We are working hard to create a comfortable environment for her, as we have done in the past. She knows that everyone in her circle is there to help her, and that they will support her whenever she needs. That's what we do, and it's more or less every day.
Shiffrin spoke with The Associated Press in a video interview about "pressure-adders."
These could be people or situations she hears through traditional media or social media. She also divides people into two groups. One is made up of complete strangers (either they are saying, "I hope you crash!" or saying, "Please win !'"),") and the other is Shiffrin herself. The other includes her coaches, U.S. teammates, friends, family.
The latter group loves to see me ski well. It's thrilling when I win. Shiffrin explained to the AP that you can be certain there will be disappointment if things don't go as planned. "Then you add that (this is) the Olympics, and that this is the one moment in your athletic career that is supposed to go well, since you have been working your entire life. The chances of this happening are very slim."
Eileen, her mother, is also a coach and sees firsthand what Mikaela experiences while they are on the ski circuit together.
I have not been the ideal role model-parent-coach and I'm still trying to find that balance. Eileen sent an email to AP stating that sometimes I lost sight of Mikaela’s mental and physical well being and happiness. It has taken us both to reevaluate our actions after each blowup. It's at those times that I think it's important to be her mom. Because that's when I realize that I have been pushing too hard on her and she isn't thriving under it. We need to reset and allow her to be happy.
Elite sports are still unaware of and concerned about mental health.
The world is just beginning to understand the types of issues that people cheer for or against and how widespread these matters may be.
"I always remind people that we are athletes and not machines. It's okay to make mistakes. Everyone has their weaknesses. All of us feel uncomfortable from time to time. Make errors. Make mistakes. "We are not robots. When you really get down to it, we are human beings. There's often a lot of tension at major events where expectations and pressure are high.
River Radamus from Colorado, who is a ski racer, said that the pressure is constant and that you can live with it. However, it can't be your only option.
Shiffrin believes this is how people view certain Olympic athletes: "It must be gold or it's a huge failure."
Shiffrin saw that Biles was not satisfied with the outcome. It wouldn't have made sense. People didn't even think it was possible. What I have learned from this kind of pressure is that it is difficult to win. Ever."
She concluded that the Games are not an enjoyable experience overall.
Shiffrin admitted that there are some wonderful snippets. Memories that will last a lifetime. Those memories make it all "worth it."
Shiffrin stated, "But it's no rainbows and sunshine and butterflies or everything people kind of say." They're like "Wow, that looks so fun!" And you're like "Well, it was fun crossing the finish line. In the next five second, the green light will be given (signaling that the time is fastest) and they can understand that. It was fun. But the rest of that day was stressful and unpleasant.