|Gold Medalist Shiffrin Tells Youngsters to Have Ambition, Perseverance|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff|
04:42PM / Tuesday, March 27, 2018
|Lanesborough Elementary School Principal Marty McEvoy introduces Shiffrin.
Shiffrin was in town to visit her grandmother after winning a seventh career World Cup title.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — You could have watched hours of coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics and not gotten an answer to the kind of hard-hitting question asked by Lanesborough Elementary School pupils on Monday afternoon.
"Why do the athletes bite their gold medals?" two-time gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin was asked by one of the youngsters during a schoolwide assembly.
"I don't know," the downhill skier replied. "Isn't that strange? It's not a cookie. Maybe it's to see if it's real gold.
The medals are really gold, and Shiffrin is really good at collecting them.
The 23-year-old Colorado native won her first gold medal at Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and added to her collection last month in South Korea.
At her first Olympics, she earned a gold in the slalom. This year, she won gold in the giant slalom and, a few days later, took silver in the super combined.
Earlier this month, she wrapped up her seventh career World Cup season title in Europe, and on the way back to her home base in Colorado, Shiffrin stopped off to visit her grandmother in Lanesborough.
On Monday, she was at Lanesborough to teach the pupils some lessons in the kind of discipline it takes to get to the top of an Olympic podium.
"For me, it's specific to sports, but it can be about a lot of things," Shiffrin said. "You need to have ambition and perseverance."
She talked about her own experience getting on skis for the first time at 2 years old and finding the motivation to keep pushing herself to improve, even after coming home as America's most decorated Olympian at the Pyeongchang games.
And she told her young audience that dedication to any pursuit -- academic, athletic or otherwise -- means personal sacrifice.
"Who here plays the piano?" she asked. "If you have a recital coming up and want to memorize a specific song, it's a lot of work, right?
"It's important to have something that you love. If you really love it, you have to work at it, and it's not always fun. But when you get to the big game and you score a goal, that's fun. Or when your team wins and you get to celebrate with them, that's fun."
Shiffrin has gotten to celebrate her wins in front of millions on a world stage.
"When I was standing on that podium … I thought about all the days I missed going out with friends or staying out late, and it was all worth it," she said.
Toward the end of the half-hour assembly, one of the boys in the school's gymnasium asked Shiffrin what words of wisdom she would use to inspire young athletes.
She turned to the words of one of her own heroes, who told the 5-year-old Shiffrin to, "Always be faster than the boys."
Shiffrin, who races today with the initials "ABFTTB" printed on the back of her helmet, told the boys and girls that the sentiment wasn't about gender, as much as it was about aiming high.
"It's important to set goals in whatever you do," Shiffrin said. "You need to really work for that, but remember that you want to have fun doing it."