Mikaela Shiffrin can do the math. She’s 22 years old and has one Olympic gold medal from Sochi four years ago.
Even if she sweeps the five events she could ski in at Pyeongchang — and she hasn’t committed to a schedule yet — Shiffrin knows she’s a long way from Baltimore’s Michael Phelps’ all-time Olympic medals record.
According to the Associated Press, Shiffrin laughed when a reporter asked Saturday about a comparison to Phelps, the swimmer raised in Rodgers Forge.
“You're crazy,” Shiffrin replied. “OK, he has, what, 23 medals?”
Actually, he has 28 medals overall and 23 gold medals.
“I know, like, it's a comparison between sports, and I don't think there's a sport in the Winter Olympics where you can even win 23 medals across three or four Olympics, but, yeah, I could never imagine myself even in the same sentence as Michael Phelps,” Shiffrin told reporters in South Korea. “It's extremely flattering, but it's apples and oranges.”
Especially when you consider there’s no chance to compete in relays and there’s a high risk of injury given the danger of her sport.
In Phelps’ first Olympics, Australia in 2000, he failed to medal at age 15. But in Athens in 2004, Phelps hauled in eight medals, including six golds. But take away relays, he had five individual medals, four golds. Shiffrin could match the individual medals over the next week or so.
At age 31, Phelps ended his career — allegedly — with six more medals, including five golds, in Rio. Phelps says he’s retired, but who knows? He’s currently awaiting the birth of his second child.
And while Shiffrin says matching Phelps’ medal haul isn’t likely from a Winter Olympian — she’d have to medal in every event she entered and ski until at least 2034 at an Olympics site that hasn’t even been awarded, there is one thing she could do in Pyeongchang:
Become America’s next Olympic hero.
It all adds up.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.