As the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, Mikaela Shiffrin’s latest means to motivate and inspire her while on the slopes isn’t what you might expect. She's started using one very specific Eminem song to her advantage. She’s begun listening to Eminem’s 2014 song "Guts Over Fear," featuring Sia, over and over again.
While, in the past, Shiffrin has leaned on Coldplay for encouragement, Em’s song reinvigorated the young athlete. She talked about "Guts Over Fear" during a new interview with Sports Illustrated. "When I hear it, I go to this really dark place in my mind, where I'm really aggressive," Shiffrin said. "I feel almost insane. I can't imagine what everybody must be thinking when they look at me."
In December, Shiffrin played the song before a competition, and it was a life-changing moment. "I wasn't nervous, I wasn't worried, I wasn't feeling any pressure to accomplish anything," Shiffrin told SI. "And nobody expected me to do anything. I was completely free."
She placed third in the competition, which was her best finish in a downhill competition. "I found such a happy, aggressive, enjoyable place," she said. "I actually started to enjoy racing again and it's been… so… much… fun."
The Olympic skier’s accolades are endless: in 2014, she became the youngest skier in Olympic history to win the gold medal in slalom at the Sochi Olympic Games. At just 22, she currently holds 41 titles on the World Cup circuit, a feat that only one other skier—Austrian skier Annemarie Moser-Pröll—reached at that age. Shiffrin is the current Overall World Cup champion, a title that is exhibitive of the best skier in the world.
At this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Shiffrin is favored to win the gold medal in slalom, and she's a favorite in the giant slalom and combined, which is a mixture of downhill and slalom. She could also potentially be a threat in Super G and downhill, if she chooses to race in both. Overall, she’s set to win two gold medals and could very well win three or more. Only one other woman in history has won three medals at one Olympic games, that being Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 2002.