As told by Team USA medalists Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin!
Lindsey said she keeps her medals in socks to protect the metal coating on the medals. You don't want them rubbing against one another. I guess this is a problem only multiple-time medalists have, and Lindsey and Mikaela fall in this category. Talk about a humble brag!
BOTH Lindsey and Mikaela have had trouble keeping track of their medals. Lindsey asked family members to bring her previous medals over to South Korea, but they had trouble locating her bronze from 2010. Mikaela told us she thinks her gold from 2014 is somewhere in her bedroom, but she's not exactly sure where. There's also a practical reason to not tell everyone where your medals are.
“I think people don’t like to say exactly [where] because it’s like, somebody could just walk into my house and steal that," Shiffrin said.
Lindsey said after all the ceremonies, she's never really worn her past medals, although she knows other athletes who carry them everywhere (but they get tarnished faster that way).
Gold medals in PyeongChang weigh 586 grams. That's almost a pound and a half.
“It actually kind of hurts my neck! But it’s OK, I will take the pain any day," Vonn said.
Vonn recounted several times when she was traveling through airport security and things got "dicey." One time they even thought she was a water skier, LOL.
“They were really confused," she said.
Shiffrin said she flew business class on her way to the Olympics this year. While she was in line for the bathroom, one of the flight attendants recognized her and told her she should use the fancier first class bathroom.
Um, I would train to be an Olympian for that perk alone!
"It's a symbol of awesomeness," Vonn said.
Not only has the company sent her a bunch of notebooks with her Wheaties box as the cover, but in 2015 the cereal brand made her a SECOND, custom box to commemorate a hole-in-one she hit at a charity golf tournament. How many other athletes can say they have two different Wheaties boxes for different sports? THAT is talent.
Shiffrin actually didn't know how many skis she brought over to South Korea (the New York Times reported she brought 35, which is actually low for her.) Vonn said she probably brought 50-60 pairs, and has another 150 pairs at home in a garage. That's...a lot of skis.
Getting 15-25 bags of skis alone isn't easy (and that isn't including other equipment). It means transporting all that gear in several cars, checking a lot of bags at the airport, and sometimes even shipping it all around in large storage containers.
"It's a huge pain, but whatever makes you ski fast," Vonn said.
Vonn and Shiffrin actually don't handle all that gear themselves (hence why Shiffrin didn't know how many skis she was actually toting at the Olympics). At this level of competition, you literally have a serviceman devoted to handling all your equipment. They travel separately with all the gear, and handle all the bags. I think I speak for us all when I say everyone could use an equipment guy.
In addition to racing in the usual locales in North America, Europe, and Asia, Shiffrin trains during the summer in Chile and New Zealand (probably because of ~seasons~ and the Southern Hemisphere).
Racing suits are meant to be aerodynamic — "paper-thin" according to Vonn — but this means they aren't warm in "any way, shape, or form." Skiers don't take their outer jackets and pants off until RIGHT before this race.
"The fastest skier is the coldest skier," Shiffrin said.
Because you have to take off most of the suit to pee, accidents "happen to everybody," Shiffrin said.
Vonn described the process for us. First you take off the top and the sleeves, and are careful the sleeves don't fall into the "wrong spot," which unfortunately happened to her once.
“I had to continue skiing the whole day with a wet sleeve. Don’t tell anyone," she said. “It was the worst thing ever. No one knew but me. Until now.”
“You can’t focus on anything but what you’re doing," Vonn told us, because you're going down the mountain really fast — so fast, skiers have crashed and died.
Shiffrin shared this sentiment when asked if she ever has any weird thoughts when she's going down the mountain.
"I wouldn’t say it’s a weird thought. I think that everybody should have this thought or they’re insane," she said. "There’s moments when I’m like, ‘I’m going to die.’”