Mikaela Shiffrin is featured in the popular Freakonomics podcast in a series entitled “The Hidden Side of Sports” among elite sports’ greats like Lance Armstrong, pro beach volleyball player and Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, and more.
In the episode, called “Here’s Why You’re Not an Elite Athlete,” athletes talk about what separates the good from the great. “There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious,” the intro reads on the Freakonomics transcript page for the episode. “A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there.”
“Maybe you’re an obsessive sports fan,” it continues. “Or maybe a more casual fan, and you follow just a couple sports or teams. Maybe you pay no attention to sports, and you only see it when the Olympics are on someone else’s TV. Whichever the case: when you do see those athletes, it’s easy to think of them as existing solely in that context. A full-grown adult. Wearing a uniform. Performing under extraordinary pressure. Focused on a highly specialized task that has zero to do with daily life, or at least your daily life. But is that who those people really are? And how did they get so good at this thing they do? When you see them on TV, all you’re seeing is the outcome. But what were the inputs? We understand that elite athletes represent some magical combination of talent and determination. But what about, say, luck?”
At around the 20:30 minute mark of the episode, you’ll hear Shiffrin talk about what makes ski racing different from other sports, and what sets her apart from her competitors. It’s worth the listen. Make sure to tune into the whole “The Hidden Side of Sports” series for more insight from Shiffrin and other elite athletes.
Release courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.