Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety: Droids, Space Aliens, Or...?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

American athletes are known for being poor sports. When they lose they throw tantrums, pout, or come up with excuses why they lost. US skiers Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin are two of the best sports in the World Cup. They always have good things to say about their opposition and are very gracious whether they win or lose a race. The Blickbild's intrepid researchers found out why Ted and Mikaela are such good sports. Even though our intrepid reporters and researchers are supposed to be on holiday, they just could not resist bringing our readers this exclusive interview with Ted and Mikaela that the others didn't dare to print.

BB: Are you both really American?
Ligety: Yes. I'm from Park City Utah.
Shiffrin: I'm also an all-American girl from Colorado. 
BB: But you can't be. You don't pout when you are second place like Lindsey Vonn did at World Cup finals in 2011. 
Shiffrin: When I was seven I was in a race and was second place because I made a mistake. I didn't want to get my medal because I usually beat the girl who won. But my mother pushed me onto the podium and told me to put on a happy face. She told me that I can't win all the time and I should be happy to be on the podium. That lesson stuck with me.
Ligety: My parents also taught me to be a good sport. Also, I am with the guys on the World Cup for almost half the year. We all have to get along. If I behaved like a jerk, then I would be very lonely.
BB: Come on, don't you feel like throwing your poles when you get beaten? 
Ligety: I've had my moments where I was upset with myself and wanted to throw my poles. But what would that accomplish? When I lose a race it's because the winner was better than me that day.
BB: So you are saying that in Garmisch this past season you really believe that Alexis Pinturault won the race because he was best that day? It wasn't because he was lucky with the wind or because you hit a rock on the course?
Ligety: Right. I made a mistake in the second run and Alexis did well in both. I didn't come to Garmisch to finish third, but Alexis was the best that day. I can't slack off this summer or he will keep beating me. He really pushed me to excellence this past season.
BB: Mikaela, you have praised Marlies Schild, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, and most recently Tina Maze. You said that half of your slalom globe belongs to Tina Maze. You didn't put out any "in your face" tweets about how lucky you were to win the slalom globe. 
Shiffrin: Marlies and Maria have been my idols. I still can't believe that I am on the podium with them. Tina also pushed me this season. I congratulate her on her overall globe and record number of points. She had an amazing season and deserved her success. Half of the slalom globe really does belong to Tina because she was so inspirational. She really pushed me to great performances and I hope she does again next season.
BB: Mikaela, Lindsey Vonn used to babysit for you. Do you remember her being your babysitter and did she pass on any of her experience to you?
Shiffrin: I don't remember too much about Lindsey being my babysitter. The only time I remember her babysitting me was when I was about 3 and accidently wet myself. She didn't want to change my clothing because she was too busy watching "Entertainment Tonight" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." She said that she wanted to be like the people on those shows and told me she was too good to help me change my clothes. I had to sit in wet pants until my mother picked me up. I think that was the last time that Lindsey babysat for me.
BB: Here is the question that the whole ski world has been asking. Are you really droids?
Shiffrin: What? How could we be droids? I am human.
BB: Both of you are practically unbeatable in your respective specialties. You almost seem to be machines.
Ligety: No, we are not droids. Both Mikaela and I express emotion. Droids have no emotion.
BB: You have a good point. (slight pause)  Mikaela, tell our readers about having your mother on the World Cup tour with you.
Shiffrin: I just turned 18 and still need my mother. She home schools me, takes care of my needs, and keeps me from getting a big head. I don't know what I would do without her. I'm still in high school and most high school students live with their mothers, so there's nothing weird about having her on tour with me. Mom is awesome.
BB: How do we know that the woman you call your mother is really your mother? Isn't she really an officer on your mother ship?
Shiffrin: My mother ship?
BB: Yes, your mother ship. Your talent is unbelievable. Most ski racers who just turned 18 have not competed at the World Cup level, let alone win four races, a world championship gold medal, and a crystal globe. You are also too nice to be true. 
Shiffrin: Are you implying that I am a space alien?
BB: Yes. And Ted too. Our intrepid researchers have found out that both of you have talent that  is too high for mere mortal ski racers. You are really aliens from another planet!
Ligety: I'm not a space alien. I was born in the USA and I'm perfectly human.
BB: You are from one of those planets where the aliens disguise themselves to look like the people on the planet that they land on. 
Ligety: Come on, space aliens don't speak English.
BB: Someone never watched Star Trek or other old science fiction movies and TV programs where the aliens all speak perfect English. 
Ligety: I didn't watch TV when I was a kid because I was busy racing and training.
BB: That also explains your sportsmanship. You have to be an alien to be American and a good sport. That also explains how Mikaela's so-called mother keeps her in line. 
Ligety: I'm not a space alien. Neither is Mikaela.
Shiffrin: Where are you coming up with this stuff? I'm not a droid or a space alien. My mother is my mother and not a space commander. Both Ted and I have been blessed with talent and the opportunity to use it.
BB: We have the most intrepid researchers in the business. We find things that the others miss. (pause). There is only one more explanation why both of you are such good sports...your parents are really Soviet sleeper agents!
Ligety: But the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore.
BB: That's right. But the Soviets left behind a lot of sleeper agents in the States because they couldn't afford to bring them back to Russia. Ted, your father's real name is Ivan Pavlovich Ligyetov. He came to the States as a teenager but he was never activated as an agent. And Mikaela, your mother is really Irina Ivanova Shiffrinina, also a Soviet sleeper agent. 
Shiffrin: My mother is a patriotic American. She is not Soviet or Russian. I had a typical American childhood.
BB: Exactly! You were brought up to be American. But the KGB sleeper agent school isn't perfect. Instead of learning how to be a sore loser, like most American athletes do, you became good sports.
Shiffrin: That's crazy!
Ligety: Mikaela is right. That's ridiculous!
BB: Didn't your parents tell you to blend in and not do anything to stand out? 
Ligety: Yes. But I imagine that a lot of parents tell their kids the same thing.
BB: You were also warned about throwing public tantrums because then you would be noticed, right?
Shiffrin: That's right. Mom told me that pouting, throwing things, or having any sort of public tantrum would not be tolerated.
BB: She also probably told you that you would be sent to a special camp if you misbehaved.
Shiffrin: Yes. But my friends' parents would say that they would send my friends to special schools for  wayward boys and girls as a threat. I thought that my mother meant the same thing. It sounded more like a threat than an actual punishment. Nevertheless, I have always done my best to behave properly.
BB: And I bet your parents talked to you about achieving glory through sports.
Shiffrin: Yes! Mom used to tell me that I would help to bring glory to my country through sports.
Ligety: My parents said the same thing. They wanted me to win Olympic and world championship medals to bring glory to my country.
BB: Did you have rooms in your houses where you were forbidden to go?
Ligety: Yes! One day I sneaked into my father's office, where I wasn't supposed to enter. But I did and found a radio with Russian writing on it. I didn't really think anything of it because my father liked to collect Russian things.
Shiffrin: My mother also had a sewing room that I couldn't go into. One day I needed my mother for something and was about to knock on the sewing room door. I heard my mother saying something that I couldn't understand. I thought that she was speaking in tongues. But after being on the World Cup and talking to the Russian skiers, I realized she was speaking Russian.
BB: That explains a lot. Now fans of World Cup skiing understand why you are two of the nicest people on the World Cup and such great sports. If more American athletes were raised by Soviet sleeper agents, maybe they would be more like you. We at the Blickbild wish both of you continued success. 
Ligety: Thank you. This has certainly been an interesting interview. I wouldn't expect anything less from the Blickbild.
Shiffrin: Thank you. I feel so honored to be selected by the Blickbild for this interview. The Blickbild has always been one of my favorites.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our journalists are not droids, space aliens, or sleeper agents. They are just naturally intrepid.

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