MIKAELA SHIFFRIN interview

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At the age of 18 years and 345 days, the American skier became

the youngest ever Olympic Slalom champion, in Sochi. During the year she also won at Levi, Bormio, Flachau, Are and Lenzerheide to win her second straight Slalom World Cup. She is the current Olympic, world and World Cup slalom champion.

She is a Nominee for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.

 

Interview date – March 16, 2015

 

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Laureus Host: What does it mean to be nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: It is an absolutely incredible surprise and honour to be nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. This Nomination makes me so, so proud and like the gold medal from Sochi and World Championship gold medal that I won this past February in Vail, this Nomination validates the work that my team and I have put into ski racing. Just like any other athlete who invests so many years of hard work, training, stress management, time management and sacrifice, I find it wonderful to have this recognition.

Question: What would it mean to you to win a Laureus Award?

Mikaela Shiffrin: Since it’s actually voted on by other sports people instead of fan-votes, it would mean, first of all, that ski racing is viewed as one of the ‘real’ sports, and that within the world of sports I might actually be viewed as something special by the greatest sport connoisseurs of this age. That would be so incredible to me that my head might not fit in the room anymore.

 

Question: You are competing with some other amazing Nominees. Do you have any comments about any of them?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I watched Marin Cilić win the US Open. My mom and I play a lot of tennis and I love to watch the Grand Slams and was particularly moved by not only Marin’s win but by his demeanor during his post-win interview. He seems like such a cool, focused, and very sweet guy, like the Croatian skiers I know.

I watched almost every minute of the World Cup this summer in between my ski camps and working out! I love soccer— I played a lot of it growing up and use it now as a great method of cross-training for skiing so I loved watching this summer. Mario Götze seems so young compared to the other veteran players on the World Cup which made it an even greater goal for the Germans and for him. I don’t think anyone expected that. I love the unexpected goals, when the other team is scattered on the field dumbfounded like they didn’t even know how it happened let alone how to stop it.

I watched James Rodriguez a lot too during the World Cup. He is also so young for his accomplishments. I have a lot of respect for people who find success at a young age because of hard work and determination over just pure talent. It scares the rest of the world just to think what more he can accomplish as he gets older and keeps growing his skills.

I don’t watch much Formula One, but a lot of the other athletes and coaches around me on the World Cup are obsessed. From the little I’ve seen of this sport, it’s dangerous, but it seems like the risk is worth the reward. Once again, I have a lot of respect for anyone, like Daniel Ricciardo, who can stand at the top among the veterans as a rookie.

I feel like Roger Federer is in a league of his own. And the Swiss Davis Cup Team is not the only one inspired by Roger. He is a class act and I use him as a role model. Every time I open my mouth and start to say something stupid to the media, a little voice in my head shouts ‘what would Roger say?’. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but really I like his style and his presence, and anyone who is inspired by him is a friend of mine.

Question: Looking back to your amazing 2014, what is your best memory?

Mikaela Shiffrin: I think one of my favourite memories was after the Slalom in Sochi, in one of the interviews, I saw a video of my Nana, and the rest of my family watching the race in Massachusetts, they were all so excited and looked like they were having so much fun, I felt a really deep connection with them at very wonderful time in my life.

Question: Going in to Sochi, you were already a World Cup slalom winner, did you consider yourself favourite for the gold medal?

Mikaela Shiffrin: Going in to Sochi, I was confident that I could win the Slalom if I put my best skiing out there, but you never know how things will stack up on race, especially in a sport like skiing with so many uncontrollable variables. So, I was feeling mentally strong but not overly confident. Especially at the Olympics, there is so much pressure that the favourites tend to choke, so I was a little nervous. There is plenty of competition; it’s not a walk in the park to win against the best ski racers in the world, so even though I had a good shot, I had to dig deep in the race and fight all the way to the finish.

 

Question: What did you think at the start gate at the beginning of your second run?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I was thinking ‘I might actually win this thing, I’m going home with gold!’. But after I had those thoughts I tried to calm down and focus on the skiing again. I was so excited that I had a chance to win that I felt like I needed to live up to that potential and it took a lot of focus.

 

Question: What did you do to celebrate?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: There really was not any time to celebrate after my win since we finished so late at night and then we did the initial flower ceremony, then doping control and press conference, then we had to drive down to the ‘coastal cluster’ for the media tour. By the time I got to the first interview in the coast it was about 1am and I was doing interviews until 3am. Then the next day I had some more interviews and the official medals ceremony, and I had to pack everything up to fly to NYC for another small media tour. We did some fun things like the Today Show, Jimmy Fallon, a visit to Vogue Magazine, an unveiling of the Wheaties box and several other really cool things, which kept me very busy for 24 hours. Then I flew right back to Europe to finish the World Cup season. All in all there was really no time for me to go to a party or celebrate since it was a full on sprint from the beginning of the Slalom to the end of the season. But I found the interviews and all that attention to be enough of a celebration!

 

 

Question: You won at 18 years and 345 days, youngest ever Olympic slalom champion. What does that make you feel like - creating Olympic history?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I haven’t thought about those records too much. I feel like there is always another record to break, history will be rewritten over and over again. I had an amazing opportunity in Sochi and between my coaches, service man (who prepares my skis), family, sponsors, and the US Ski Team, we all took that opportunity. At the time it felt like a miracle, but when I look back on it now it felt like a well-deserved win that came from a LOT of people working very hard. And the way I see it, the only way to keep having moments of victory like that is to that in my memory-box and keep moving forward.

 

Question: You have had a good 2015, can you tell us about your year?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I started off the year with a bang with the Sölden, Austria— I tied for the win with Anna Fenninger. But I fell into a little bit of a slump the next few races, my Slalom fell off for several reasons. It took most of November and December until I got back on track. I haven’t reached all of my goals for this season but I’m really happy that my Slalom is back on track and I have been figuring out the Giant Slalom more and more, so I think I am setting myself up well for next year in both events.

 

Question: Was Beaver Creek the highlight?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: Yes, the World Championships at Beaver Creek was very special to me. To win a gold medal not only on home soil in the US, but in my home town, under a lot of pressure, was huge. I was very proud of myself and my entire team for making that happen. Sometimes being the ‘favourite’ makes it harder to win, but we stayed focused and it worked out very well.

 

Question: What are your future plans – presumably you will defend your Olympic title in 2018 in South Korea?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: Yes my plan is to defend my title and hopefully be in the running for a Giant Slalom gold medal and maybe some strong results in Super G too. I doubt I will be doing much in Downhill yet but I guess we will see how I progress into the speed disciplines in the next few years.

 

Question: What are your other goals?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I would love to go to college someday and work toward a profession in the sciences, or maybe go into fashion or interior design, or one of many other interests I have.

 

Question: How and when did you start skiing?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I started skiing when I was 2½ years old in our driveway in Vail. My parents put me on tiny plastic skis and one of them towed me to the top in a sled and sent me down the driveway to the other waiting at the bottom. After I was stable enough to stand, we moved to the mountain… and it’s all history from there.

 

 

 

 

Question: Who was your role model?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: As far as skiing itself, I loved watching Janica Kostelic, Jean-Baptiste Grange, Marlies Schild, Maria Riesch and above all else, Bode Miller. There have been several other idols over the years and I had learned about Lindsey Vonn’s approach and sort of modelled myself after her work ethic and focus; preparing myself for the hours of effort she is known to put into working out and skiing.

 

Question: Was being a skiing Olympic champion always a dream for you?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: Being a great skier was always my dream, but it wasn’t until the past few years when I started winning on the World Cup circuit that I dared to even hope or dream about becoming an Olympic Champion. Still, it was a dream come true.

 

Question: Do you have a strict diet and fitness regime?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I try and watch my diet- I eat pasta, salads, vegetables, fruit, meat, and every now and then I splurge on some sugary treats, but I try to keep my diet well balanced. I can feel when I haven’t been eating well because my legs are tired and I’m not as sharp mentally. I have a fairly strict fitness regime these days, I do a little bit of a work out or recovery every day, whether it’s spinning on the bike, jogging, core, balance, agility or strength.

 

Question: Who has helped you in your climb to the top of skiing?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: There are too many people for me to even name who have helped me in my climb to the top. First and foremost my family, my friends, coaches and teachers that I worked with in Vail and Burke Mountain Academy, then my coaches on the US Ski Team/USSA, conditioning trainers, the US Olympic Committee and all of the extra staff that accompanied everyone I just mentioned, and of course my sponsors and fans. It takes a village to raise an elite athlete, that’s for sure.

 

Question: What are your interests away from skiing?

 

Mikaela Shiffrin: I have many different interests, from playing guitar and piano, singing— well, just music in general— drawing and painting, tennis, soccer, windsurfing, biking, dancing—though I’m not very good— reading, playing with my cat, hanging with my family and friends, and watching movies or my favorite TV shows— Bones, Friends, Glee, and NCIS.