Why the World’s Best Skiers Don’t Always Win at the Olympics.

YANQING, China — At this point, Mikaela Shiffrin has gotten used to a certain rhythm to her life. Every four years, the world appears on her doorstep and asks how many medals she is going to win at the Olympics.

After all, she is, by many accounts, the best skier in the world.

Yet for several years now, Shiffrin has been trying to explain that Alpine skiing, with its microscopic margins for error and its laundry list of uncertainties, is not that predictable. A shift as subtle as a gust of wind, or the movement of a cloud that allows sunlight to soften the snow in the middle of a race, can make the difference between a gold medal and 11th place.

Even the world’s best skiers, then, know that years of preparation and training can mean little at the Olympics if conditions and…

Read Story