Friday, November 6, 2015

Athlete's Mother Profile: Eileen Shiffrin

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We have talked about people who work behind the scenes at races and interviewed photographers. But one of the most important influences in a ski racer's life is his or her mother. A mother is good for many things: cooking, doing laundry, shopping, managing an athlete's day-to-day affairs so that he or she can concentrate on racing, and providing milk and cookies when her son or daughter has a bad day. More racers than you think have their mothers with them on the World Cup tour. One of our intrepid reporters got the opportunity to talk to Mikaela Shiffrin's mother Eileen in Soelden. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: What do you do for Mikaela?
Shiffrin: I take care of all of the daily things so that Mika can focus on training. I also help her with her studies. 
BB: What is she studying?
Shiffrin: She is currently taking online German courses so that she can talk with some of the other ladies on the World Cup tour. She is also taking differential calculus, which will help her for  the math test if she ties for a globe with another racer.
BB: Very impressive. When Mikaela was 17, she was asked about having you accompany her on the tour. She said that it was normal for a 17-year-old to live at home with her mother. But she is 20 now. Don't you think she is old enough to be on her own now?
Shiffrin: In the States there are lots of men in their 30s and 40s who still live in their parents' basement.
BB: But those men who live in their mothers' basements are the ones who will never get a date because they spend all of their free time at Star Trek conventions.
Shiffrin: That is true. Yet they are the ones that the FIS calls on when they use Klingon for the tie-breaking language test. They can tell if someone's Klingon is grammatically correct, unlike most FIS officials. 
BB: What do your husband and son do when you are in Europe with Mikaela?
Shiffrin: They do a lot of father-son bonding activities. Most nights they sit on the sofa in their underwear watching sports on TV, drinking beer, burping, and trying to light their farts. 
BB: Do they remember to leave their underwear on when lighting their farts?
Shiffrin: I hope so. At least neither of them has told me that they burned themselves trying to light their farts. What does this have to do with Mika?
BB: Nothing really. But I'm trying to give our readers a picture of what life is like for the rest of your family while you are on the road with Mikaela. (short pause) Do you make sure that Mikaela eats all of her vegetables at dinner?
Shiffrin: When she was younger, it was very difficult to get her to eat her vegetables. Now she does so happily.
BB: That must be one of the things that make you realize that you did something right for your daughter. 
Shiffrin: Yes. I am glad that she makes good, healthy food choices. 
BB: The French men's technical team attributes its success to a combination of its witch doctor and eating Wheaties. Does Mikaela eat Wheaties?
Shiffrin: Not in Europe. They don't have Wheaties in Europe.
BB: How do you think the French witch doctor gets Wheaties if you can't buy them in Europe?
Shiffrin: He must import them somehow. Or maybe he conjures them up.
BB: Does Mikaela eat Wheaties when she is in the States? After all, she was on a Wheaties box after winning a gold medal in Sochi. Barilla pasta is one of her sponsors and she has been photographed eating dishes made with it. 
Shiffrin: She does eat Wheaties once in a while. Where are you coming up with these questions?
BB: We at the Blickbild ask the questions that nobody else dares to ask. Mikaela is known for her excellent sportsmanship. Whenever she loses a race, she never makes excuses and even congratulates the winner. Now that she is in her fifth season in the World Cup, don't you think it's time to hire an excuse coach?
Shiffrin: An excuse coach?
BB: Someone who helps a racer come up with a clever excuse for losing a race. Lindsey Vonn has the most creative excuse coach in the business. It's the American way to make excuses for a poor performance.
Shiffrin: When Mika was young, I taught her about sportsmanship. But now her good sportsmanship comes from within. I have nothing to do with it now.
BB: Do you realize that you are a very poor parent because you taught Mikaela how to be a good sport and respect her opponents? And you refuse to hire an excuse coach. What kind of a mother are you?
Shiffrin: I am a good mother and very proud of my daughter!
BB: Mikaela is a lovely young woman who anyone would be proud to have as a daughter. But she became that way despite your influence. Your fitness as a parent is questionable.  While Lindsey Vonn's mother was teaching her daughter how to make creative excuses for losing, from belly aches, to the snow being the wrong shade of white, to her dog humping her leg, you were teaching your child not to be a diva. What do you have to say about that?
Shiffrin: I was doing what I thought was right by my child. Anyway, it seems like Lindsey has all of the good excuses and that any that Mika made would pale in comparison. 
BB: Your behavior must change if Mikaela is going to become a prima donna. Contrary to popular belief, there is room for more than one diva on the US Ski Team. 
Shiffrin: Mika is now an adult and I don't have any influence on her anymore. I could suggest that she start making excuses when she doesn't win, but she probably won't listen. I don't think that she would listen to an excuse coach either. 
BB: So you are saying that you will be known as the US Ski Team's Worst Mom because Mikaela will carry on with her super sportsmanship? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?
Shiffrin: I am! (starts sobbing) I am the poster child for the US Ski Team's Bad Parent School! (sobs uncontrollably)
BB: Oh great! Now I will be even more infamous than that reporter who made Bode Miller cry in Sochi. (pause while getting some tissues, goes over to Mrs. Shiffrin and pats her on the back) There, there. Have some tissues. (hands tissues to Mrs. Shiffrin) It will all be okay. There is still hope for you and Mikaela.
Shiffrin: (still crying) There is?
BB: Yes. Lindsey's excuse coach is willing to spend time working with Mikaela on developing creative excuses for losing. He will also train you in coaching Mikaela not to congratulate or respect her opponents. Mikaela will be the perfect drama queen diva in no time!
Shiffrin: Thank you! I don't know what I would have done without you.
BB: We at the Blickbild are always willing to help those in need. We learned that from our mothers. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and for giving us insight on what it is like to be the mother of a successful World Cup racer. We at the Blickbild also want to wish Mikaela a successful season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.
The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters learned their intrepidness from their mothers. 

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