What You Probably Don't Know About Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin

If you're a fan of the Winter Olympics, you probably know record-breaking skier Mikaela Shiffrin. More specifically, Shiffrin is an alpine skier who, in 2014, became the youngest person to ever win an Olympic gold medal in slalom when she was just 18 years old. She also won another gold medal (and silver) at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, according to the official Olympics website.

The 26-year-old Colorado native made her World Championship debut in 2013 and went on to become the first woman in 78 years to win three consecutive slalom world titles, according to Team USA. While you might know a lot about Shiffrin's celebrated career, you might not know much about the dedicated athlete off the slopes. When she's not sharing dances on her Instagram, you can catch her spending time with her only brother or hanging out with her boyfriend. Here are some other things you might not know about the Olympian.

She comes from a family of skiers

Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the best skiers in the world, and that's not surprising when you learn about her upbringing. Not only did she grow up skiing, but so did her family members. According to The Berkshire Eagle, Shiffrin's mother, Eileen, who was also raised by ski lovers, grew up skiing with her siblings near their home in Massachusetts. She would go on to become an alpine skier in high school. Shiffrin's father, Jeff, was also a skier who competed on his Dartmouth University team.

When they were children, Shiffrin and her older brother would watch World Cup videos with their parents after practice. "We'd try to figure out what the World Cup racers were doing that we weren't doing," Shiffrin told Deadspin. "We were always trying to analyze, break down the sport, and get better." Her brother, Taylor, would go on to compete during his college years at the University of Denver, as noted by The Berkshire Eagle.

Mikaela Shiffrin attended a sports boarding school

Mikaela Shiffrin didn't just grow up skiing with her family, she also raced in school — a boarding school for skiers to be exact. When she was in the eighth grade, the then-future Olympic gold medalist enrolled in Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, as The Washington Post reported.

Shiffrin received high praise while in school. "For her age, she's the best I've seen," the academy's headmaster Kirk Dwyer told Outside Magazine when Shiffrin was 16 years old. Her classmates also recognized her abilities. "She wasn't even at school yet and we had watched more videos of her than we did any of us," Shiffrin's school roommate, Brayton Pech, told The Washington Post.

Although Shiffrin stood out at Burke Mountain, the alpine skier was a shy student off the slopes. So shy, in fact, she admitted to being timid even when speaking in a small classroom, telling Deadspin, "I was afraid to get up and speak and present a book in front of them!"

Her mother is also her coach

Being the skier who raised Mikaela Shiffrin, it makes sense that Shiffrin's mother, Eileen, would coach her daughter. As a coach and mother, Eileen travels with and helps train Shiffrin. This can include everything from setting up courses and analyzing videos to helping Shiffrin maintain diets. "Having my mom with me makes it feel more like home," Shiffrin told Deadspin. "And she helps me. We watch skiing together a lot. She's somebody I throw ideas against."

Despite working together, the mother-daughter duo make sure to maintain their close bond off the slopes. Shiffrin even describes her mom as one of her "best friends" whom she always includes in her big moments — like the time Shiffrin went to summer school while competing in the World Cup, and Eileen became her "study partner." "I ask her to do things for me that I would never ask anybody else to do," Shiffrin told Deadspin, referring to her mother. "And she protects me."

She looks up to athletes Bode Miller and Serena Williams

As a record-breaking Olympian, Mikaela Shiffrin is no doubt a role model to many athletes around the world. However, she also has some athletes she looks up to herself. One of her idols is skier Bode Miller, whom 6-year-old Shiffrin was first drawn to as she watched the 2002 Olympics. One moment, in particular — when Miller was intent on trying again after missing a gate — inspired Shiffrin. "Even at a young age," she told Sports Illustrated. "I could relate to that."

Shiffrin is such a Miller fan, in fact, that she's confessed to watching his documentary, "Flying Downhill," more than 300 times (via Sports Illustrated) and gushed over him personally congratulating her. "I still can't believe he knows who I am," she said in an interview with Outside Magazine.

Miller isn't the only athlete Shiffrin looks up to, however. She also idolizes champion tennis player Serena Williams, who just happens to be the "top name" on Shiffrin's list of role models, according to Us Weekly.

The Olympian loves to nap

Mikaela Shiffrin has an intense schedule, one that typically involves waking up early, training for up to six hours, and exercising. One other thing she's sure to include in each day? Long naps. "When I tell people that, they're like, 'What!?'" she told Deadspin, referring to her routine napping. "But you work out six hours a day and you'd sleep that long too." Shiffrin sleeps so often, in fact, that, during a "Today" interview, she even joked about winning a hypothetical gold medal in napping (via People).

Shiffrin, who gets around nine hours of sleep at night in addition to her hour-long naps, doesn't just snooze when she's training for competition. She's also known to squeeze in naps during events, like the time she managed to take a nap between races at the 2018 Winter Olympics. "I do it on every race,” Shiffrin told USA Today during the 2018 Olympics. "There's always a little bit of time between the first and the second run and I think I had an hour today where I could sort of lie down for an hour on a bench in [the] corner of the lodge."

Mikaela Shiffrin has experienced performance anxiety

Mikaela Shiffrin might be a top-performing athlete, but that doesn't mean she's free from challenges. One such challenge is performance anxiety, which she first experienced after the 2014 Winter Olympics. "I never expected that I would be somebody who was completely petrified by pressure and by performance anxiety," Shiffrin said during a Mountain Youth event (via People). "But I went through a phase of that, and I had to learn how to control my mind and my emotions and stress."

Fortunately, Shiffrin has developed techniques, tools, and practices to help her manage anxiety. In addition to visualization, Shiffrin also loves music. Whether it's listening to songs or playing her acoustic guitar, Shiffrin has found music to be a great way to get in touch with her feelings. She also encourages others to find an art form that helps them and speaks openly about mental health and wellness (via People).

She doesn't focus on breaking records

Mikaela Shiffrin has broken many records throughout her career. Aside from being one of three Olympic skiers with the most gold medals, she's also the first skier to end a season as the overall, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G World Cup champion. On top of that, she's the first skier to win $1 million in prize money.

Despite these, and other, accolades, Shiffrin tries not to focus on breaking records. Instead, she believes what's gotten her so far is being laser-focused on her performance. "You can drive yourself crazy looking at numbers and thinking about records and if you're going to break it ... and you can set yourself up to feel disappointed for the rest of your life," she told People. "But at the end of the day... My whole career, it's been successful. It's been highs and lows but I'm really proud of it."

When she's not competing, she's an avid Olympics fan

Although she is an Olympian herself, Mikaela Shiffrin is also a big fan of the Games. Shiffrin became an Olympics lover during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and was tuning in to every event by the 2010 Olympics, according to Sports Illustrated.

Shiffrin doesn't just root for athletes in the Winter Olympics — she loves the Summer Olympics as well. During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Shiffrin could be found binging the Games she recorded on her couch (via The Washington Post). And, like the rest of the world watching that year, Shiffrin also witnessed gymnast Simone Biles make the decision to remove herself from Olympic events for mental health reasons: a feeling Shiffrin could relate to. During the Tokyo Games, Shiffrin posted a photo of Biles and her teammates to Instagram, along with a video of herself watching a gymnastics event. She also posted a sweet caption that read, "So proud of all these women. What I saw on primetime of the Team Event tonight was inspiration and class from every one of them. All love."

Mikaela Shiffrin is dating fellow skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde

Mikaela Shiffrin doesn't just come from a family of skiers — she's also dating one. Shiffrin's boyfriend is Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, a Norwegian skier who won the 2020 Men's World Cup. The championship-winning couple made their relationship public in May 2021 when Kilde posted photos of the two together on his Instagram, which he cheekily captioned, "If you know, you know... and now you know." Later that summer, Shiffrin posted an Instagram video of the two smiling while riding bikes in New York.

Outside of posting about each other on their social media accounts, the celebrity ski couple attended the 2021 ESPYs together dressed in black and have cheered each other on during races. Naturally, the duo discuss their performances post-competition and talk about how they can improve. "It's amazing," Shiffrin told The Aspen Times about being in a relationship. "I always used to think that having a boyfriend would be such a big distraction, but it's really just so nice."