Champion-elect Shiffrin determined to keep improving


Mikaela Shiffrin stands on the verge of becoming the youngest FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup overall champion since 2003 in Aspen this week, but she is desperate to keep improving.

Since her World Cup debut at the age of 15 Shiffrin has been touted as a star for the future, and in 2016-17 she has risen to the top echelons of the sport.

The 22-year-old has four slalom globes from the last five seasons, however this term she is on target to claim the top prize - the overall title.

With four races remaining - all in Aspen - Shiffrin sits 378 points clear of her nearest rival Ilka Stuhec as the new generation have come to the fore.

However, she acknowledges she is far from the finished article despite successfully branching out into giant slalom, super-G and downhill this season.

"I still have the lead which has sort of surprised me," she told Red Bull. "I thought maybe I could be competitive for it [the overall World Cup title] this season but I'm much more confident about it now.

"Right now, I'm having to figure out how to balance it all because I'm still new to the World Cup and young. I'm still trying to improve my skiing a lot, so it's difficult to balance.

"There's not enough time in the day to get it all done but this year I felt like we did a good job of balancing it."

The secret to Shiffrin's success is simple: plenty of hard work on the slopes to improve her speed and technique, something she believes sets her apart from her rivals.

"I always figured that at the World Cup all the top athletes train every day, on snow a lot and getting the miles in," she added.

"So when I made it to World Cup, I felt I had to ski even more as some girls have 10 years' experience over me and I had to make up for that lost time somehow.

"So I started skiing double sessions, twice as much as my team-mates, more days, more time in each session. Usually the coaches or others will say we have to take a break now as I have to be able to prepare the skis or coaches need to go home and see their families but I'm like 'no, we keep going'. 

"I have the energy and strength to train when no one else is and that mileage you can't really substitute anything for that and that's where the dominance comes from."