"When I get back on snow it's almost like I travel back in time to the feeling I used to have. That youthful, 6-year-old, nothing else matters, you're sort of the center of the universe kind of a feeling,"... This quote came from an interview in USA Today by Nancy Armour.
In the paragraph preceding this quote, Mikaela Shiffrin referenced skiing with family and friends, while growing up in Vail. What Mikaela is revealing is the underlying "secret sauce" behind every great champion. While it is true that wining consistently at the highest level in sport is the result of a long process and takes an enormous amount of effort, time and commitment, the driving force behind all of that work is fun.
In the early stages of athletic development, the freedom to be a child and to have that feeling of being in an environment where "nothing else matters," enables a child to experience enjoyment. Thus, while the meaning of fun or enjoyment changes over a champion's career, the basic joy of participation in sport, that is developed at a very young age is catalyst that starts and maintains the career of a great champion.