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Mikaela Shiffrin sets stunning goal for 2018 Olympics

3:21 PM, Feb 22, 2014   |    comments
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SOCHI -- To Mikaela Shiffrin, one Olympic gold medal is just the beginning.

At the next Winter Games, she says she wants five.

One day after winning gold in the women's slalom, becoming the youngest skier in Olympic history to do so, Shiffrin, 18, gave reporters a glimpse into her future goals - listing two items in particular that paint the 18-year-old Coloradoan as an Olympian to watch in 2018 and beyond.

When it comes to the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Shiffrin is dreaming about putting together an unprecedented medal sweep across Alpine skiing's five events: downhill, super G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined.

"I'm still young and I still have a lot of strength to gain over the next few summers of conditioning and the next few winters of skiing," Shiffrin said. "I don't want to push myself too far too fast and definitely don't get greedy, but at the same time, I'm a dreamer.

"So right now I'm dreaming of the next Olympics, winning five gold medals. Which sounds really crazy. Sorry I just admitted that to you all."

An Alpine sweep, or even multiple golds in one Olympics, would clearly separate Shiffrin from Lindsay Vonn, the two-time medalist who missed the Sochi Games with a knee injury.

It took Vonn until her third Games, in 2010, to win her first medal. While Vonn's two medals and 59 World Cup victories makes her one of the great alpine skiers in U.S. history, age is also on Shiffrin's side: Vonn will be 33 in 2018, four years older than any U.S. female skier in Sochi.

Shiffrin, on the other hand, may only now be entering the prime of her career.

To date, Shiffrin has competed internationally in only the two slalom events, with giant slalom the weaker of her two disciplines. "I definitely want to branch out," she said Saturday.

Shiffrin also indicated perhaps an even grander vision for her career in the sport.

"When I'm done I hope I can look back and say that I changed the sport," Shiffrin said, "that I was innovative and created a new way of skiing and pushed women's ski racing to be faster and more athletic and more exciting for the people to watch, and really put on a show.

"I do hope that I can inspire people to try to put on a show for themselves, for the crowd, for anybody, just ski their best and don't be afraid to make the mistakes because you'll learn from them. They make the sport exciting."

WOMEN'S SLALOM: Historic gold for Shiffrin

It's the spirit of the Olympics - the Games' inspiring message - that makes such a dream possible, Shiffrin said.

"I think the Olympics are a really inspiring event, not just because Americans win but because anybody can win," she said.

"It's OK to be confident here. It's OK for me to go into my first press conference and say, 'I'm going tor two medals, I'm going for gold.' Because I think I can. I don't think it's jinxing here, and I don't think it's arrogant. I think it's just a fact: We come to the Olympics to win."

Five Olympic golds -- however unlikely -- would give her six for a still-young career and tie the all-time Olympic record. One woman in Olympic history has come close to a sweep. Croatia's Janica Kostelic won four in Salt Lake City in 2002, falling short only in the downhill.

Two male skiers have swept the Alpine events but that was when there were only three, not five.

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