ARE, Sweden (Reuters) - Mikaela Shiffrin’s ability not to “freak out” when she makes a mistake sets her apart from her rivals at the world championships, according to fellow American Bode Miller.
The 23-year-old Shiffrin won the opening gold medal on offer at the Are championships on Tuesday, edging out Italy’s Sofia Goggia by 0.02 seconds in the Super-G.
American great Lindsey Vonn suffered a nasty crash in the penultimate race of her career, while several other racers made crucial mistakes which cost them medals.
Four-time world champion Miller, Eurosport’s skiing analyst, said Shiffrin’s first world title in a speed event after winning three slalom golds, was a mark of her decision-making.
“She was aggressive the way she always is. I think she adapted well and that’s what makes her so special,” he said.
“She doesn’t freak out and she doesn’t make the wrong choice. There were a few errors in there, but that’s what makes her so special — she just adapts to whatever is thrown at her and makes the right choices.
“Mikaela just does everything well — she is mentally tougher than everyone else, she trains more, she is smaller than a few of the other athletes but she has the strength.”
Shiffrin, who already has 56 World Cup wins compared to Vonn’s 82, will be favorite for the slalom and giant slalom in Are and Miller expects to see more of the same.
“The mistakes that Shiffrin made there (today), you would see others lose more time — but she is gentle, doesn’t panic, made a little correction, threw up a bunch of snow but was still back on line afterwards and didn’t do anything crazy.”
Miller also thinks Vonn, despite her crash, can bounce back and challenge for the downhill in what will be her final race.
“She’s a veteran and this is certainly not the first crash she has ever had and not the worst one,” he said.
“She is not shy about getting back up after crashes — we’ve seen that for years and years. Hopefully she can surprise us all, get back up there and be aggressive.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar