Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin more than ready for Olympic debut

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An athlete’s first Olympics should be a nerve-racking event. Compete against the best in front of a world-wide audience? How does one prepare for that?

If you’re U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, you’ve been prepping for years.

The 18-year-old will race for the first time in Sochi on Tuesday as one of the favorites in the women’s giant slalom (Watch it here starting at 2 am ET). She’s no novice — she’s the second-youngest American to win a World Cup alpine event and won the 2013 season title in slalom — and says she’s already prepped herself to think that way.

“I am really psyched to race, and I’ve been here before, in my head, for sure,” Shiffrin said, via the AP. “So to everybody, it’s my first Olympics, but to me it’s my thousandth.”

That entails picturing scenarios along the way (how will she feel at the starting gate? And on the podium? Or a crash?) so she can be prepared for whatever the course throws her way. Perhaps it’ll work. Some of her peers seem to think it will.

“She will handle the pressure really good,” Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner (second in the World Cup giant slalom standings), told the AP. “She’s still young, she’s not thinking too much, and I think she will for sure take one medal, at least.”

President Obama to female Olympians: ‘Y’all crushed it’ (video)

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President Barack Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Obama opened his speech by saying that he had planned on doing a floor routine with Simone Biles, before ultimately deciding that the room was too crowded. First Lady Michelle Obama interjected to remind the crowd that her husband “can’t touch his toes.”

The President then singled out the athletic accomplishments of Olympians including Biles, Michelle Carter, Simone Manuel, Claressa Shields, Kristin Armstrong, Kim Rhode, Allyson Felix, Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, Kristi Castlin, Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps and the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

He also recognized: Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, Sam Kendricks, the U.S. Army reservist who put down his pole and stood at attention when the national anthem started playing, Will Claye, who proposed to U.S. hurdler Queen Harrison after winning an Olympic silver medal, and Abbey D’Agostino, who helped an opponent to her feet after a crash.

“That is exactly what the Olympic spirit and the American spirit should be all about,” Obama said about the sportsmanship of D’Agostino.

The President was particularly enthusiastic about the performance of the female athletes.

“2016 belonged to America’s women Olympians,” Obama said. “Y’all crushed it.”

Watch Obama’s full speech here.

After Obama’s speech, Biles presented him with a surfboard autographed by the Olympians in attendance.

“I’m going to have a lot of time to surf next year,” Obama said.

MORE: Photos of Team USA at the White House

Photos: Team USA at the White House

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Below are some of the best photos of Team USA from inside the White House: