Charlotte Kalla after receiving the gold medal in the Women’s Skiathlon. Photo: Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach
Charlotte Kalla after receiving the gold medal in the Women’s Skiathlon. Photo: Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach

Mikaela Shiffrin was tired of feeling … tired. The 22-year-old American skiing sensation feels she is back to her best as she bids for a clutch of gold medals at the Games.

After racking up 10 World Cup victories this season, she has managed to reach the podium just once in her last six races. Shiffrin has attributed this disappointing dip in form to fatigue.

“I’m feeling much better, much more like myself,” a relaxed Shiffrin told the media on Saturday.

She will need to be. The slalom gold medalist at the last Games in Sochi has a packed schedule. Her plans include competing in the slalom and the giant slalom before deciding whether to go for the super-G, the downhill and the combined.

On paper, this looks a grueling itinerary, but at least she is feeling refreshed.

“In Lenzerheide I was emotional and crying and frustrated, and not really myself. so that was a sign to me that I was just a little bit too tired,” she said of her final giant slalom World Cup race before the Games, where she finished seventh. “I feel much, much better now and I’m excited.”

Playing the numbers

For stats freaks, the Winter Olympics resemble a ‘numbers heaven’. According to CNN, the cost of the Pyeongchang Games is US$10 billion, roughly the GDP of Madagascar.

CrossCountry skiing

Up to 2,925 athletes will compete in South Korea, with the oldest being 39-year-old US hockey star Brian Gionta, who played his 1,000th game in the NHL last year.

Oh, and for techies, there are 85 “robots” dotted around the venues to provide information on events, transportation and tourist attractions.

Kalla’s golden day

Charlotte Kalla won the first gold at the Games in the women’s skiathlon. The 30-year-old Swede beat defending champion Marit Bjoergen by 7.8 seconds.

Even so, the Norwegian still became the most decorated female Winter Olympian in history. Bjoergen’s silver means that she now has a total of 11 medals.

As for Kalla, it was her third Olympic gold. “I was quite nervous today and the Olympics is something I have focused on for a long, long time,” she told the media.

“I have felt great during the season but I know everyone wants to be in shape at the Olympics. It was really exciting and fun to compete. On the finish line, I did not want to look back … I just focused on winning,” Kalla added.

Opening night nerves

Even the stars are human. Figure skater Yuna Kim, who lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, said it was an “unforgettable experience.”

Talking to the South Korean media, Yuna admitted she been “incredibly nervous” because there was only one rehearsal. Her greatest fear on the night was that she would fall over.

– with Reuters and AFP