Sports Illustrated declares Colorado’s Mikaela Shiffrin “world’s most dominant athlete”

Sports Illustrated declares Colorado’s Mikaela Shiffrin “world’s most dominant athlete”

Sports Illustrated magazine this week acknowledges something that Colorado ski racing fans figured out a long time ago: Mikaela Shiffrin reigns as the world’s most dominant athlete.

Not LeBron James. Not Serena Williams. Not Lionel Messi.

It’s Mikaela Shiffrin, the humble young superstar from Edwards, Colorado.

The magazine’s cover is a posed portrait of the 24-year-old phenom with the headline: “The Drive, Depth and Doubts of the World’s Most Dominant Athlete.”

Much of the story by Greg Bishop is already well known by Shiffrin’s Colorado fans. It mentions the recent death of her father, Jeff, but focuses on how she processes her success and fame. Despite her relative youth in the sport, only three racers in history have won more than her, and she’s only one World Cup victory behind the man who is third on the list (Marcel Hirscher of Austria, 66 wins). She is almost sure to pass the other two, Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86) if she stays healthy and motivated. Stenmark has said she will probably reach 100 career wins before she’s through.

But all that success is hard to wrap a mind around, even for the person experiencing it.

“There’s one word that bothers Shiffrin: human,” Bishop writes. “She hates when people say that about her, because it’s usually meant as an insult. She’ll barrel down some mountain, a blur on two skis, lose by hundredths of seconds in almost perfect races, only to hear some internet yahoo say it proves she’s human, as opposed to some sort of ski-racing cyborg.”

Shiffrin tells Bishop she sometimes feels like “bubble boy,” when strangers see her and want to interact.

“I feel like (they) look at me and are like, ‘Do we speak to it?’ ” Bishop quotes her as saying.

The story ends with a paragraph that might capture Shiffrin’s greatest achievement:

“That Shiffrin can process what it feels like to control two skis attached to her feet while moving at 80 miles per hour, and not only analyze what that’s like but explain it to mere mortals, says something about her, too. Like: that maybe all the times she gets inside her own head are good for her. It’s a tricky balance, sure, but this is Mikaela Shiffrin, who can pull off the rarest of feats: She’s the most dominant athlete on the planet and doesn’t quite realize it.”

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