Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Athlete Profile: Mikaela Shiffrin

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Two-time overall globe winner Mikaela Shiffrin started off in the World Cup as a teenage wunderkind and has matured into one of ski racing's superstars. Since her debut in the World Cup, she has kept her girl next door wholesomeness along with great sportsmanship. Mikaela is a real champion because of her graciousness in both victory and defeat as well as an interesting person to interview. One of our intrepid reporters caught up with Mikaela in Killington during a break in her training. Let's find out what she has to say...

BB: Thank you for taking some time to talk with us. You have always been a great interview subject.
Shiffrin: Are you new? I have been interviewed by the Blickbild several times but never met you.
BB: Yes, I am new.
Shiffrin: Are you as intrepid as your predecessors?
BB: Normally I am the one who is supposed to be asking the questions because I am the reporter and you are supposed to answer them because you are the ski racer. But because you are so nice, I will answer your question. I like to think that I am as intrepid as our other reporters. (short pause) Let's start off with a typical day in your life. What do you usually eat for breakfast? Barilla pasta?
Shiffrin: No, I don't usually eat pasta for breakfast. I like to eat an omelet with one of Barilla's sauces. Barilla not only makes wonderful pasta, it makes good sauces.
BB: What is your favourite sauce to put on an omelet?
Shiffrin: Barilla makes a very good arabiatta sauce. It has just the right amount of spiciness to start the day.
BB: Do you eat pasta for lunch and dinner?
Shiffrin: Yes. Barilla makes a variety of pasta noodles and sauces. Sometimes I eat the pasta as a main dish and other times as a side dish.
BB: Do you sometimes mix other things into your pasta like your boyfriend Mathieu Faivre's mother's sheep spleens or ojlmsfjaegger? (see this story) Both of these are good sources of protein, and we all know that athletes need protein for maintaining strong muscles. 
Shiffrin: Not this again with Mathieu's mother's sheep spleens! And what are ojlmsfjaegger?
BB: They are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. They are eaten in Norway on birthdays as special treats.
Shiffrin: That sounds awful! Who would eat that?
BB: Everyone in Norway. They love ojlmsfjaegger in Norway.
Shiffrin: So those are the funny things that Nina Haver-Loeseth, Ragnhild Mowinckel and Maren Skjoeld are always eating. I will stick to my Barilla pasta.
BB: Speaking of pasta, do you cook it or does your mother?
Shiffrin: Usually Mom cooks for me, but sometimes I like to get creative in the kitchen and cook for myself. Barilla has many delicious recipes.
BB: So your mother still goes on tour with you? Isn't that a bit odd at your age?
Shiffrin: Not really. Italian men live with their mothers until they are 40. A lot of men in the US are in their 30s and 40s and still live in their parents' basements.
BB: Touche! Does your mother make sure you eat all of your vegetables?
Shiffrin: Yes. But I like vegetables, especially in Barilla pasta primavera.
BB: Does your mother tell you that you can't have dessert until you have eaten all of your vegetables?
Shiffrin: No. As I said before, I like vegetables and eat them happily. Ski racers eat a healthy diet with a lot of fruits, vegetables, pasta, and protein.
BB: Does your mother make you sit at the table until you clean your plate?
Shiffrin: No. I am an adult and choose my own portions. I usually eat everything on my plate. These questions are getting a bit absurd.
BB: You should know from previous interviews that the Blickbild specialises in the absurd. If you want the usual questions, talk to Ski Racing magazine. (short pause) You have won three reindeer in Levi. Do you check in on them through the special website that was provided to you?
Shiffrin: Oh yes! I love my reindeer! They are adorable!
BB: Your reindeer Rudolph and Sven look like they would have the perfect size hearts for ojlmsfjaegger. When Mr. Gru grows a little more, he will also have the right size heart. Would you ever--
Shiffrin (horrified): I could never eat my reindeer! How could you even think such a thing?!?
BB: Even if Ragnhild Mowinckel gave you a cookbook with her favourite reindeer meat recipes? Reindeer meat could go well with Barilla pasta. It's an excellent source of protein.
Shiffrin: No!!!!
BB: Do your reindeer get along well with each other? 
Shiffrin: I think so. They seem to play well together when I watch them on the website.
BB: So Rudolph and Sven are not suffering from any emotional disturbance because they have been replaced by the younger and cuter Mr. Gru?
Shiffrin: I don't think that reindeer have mental illnesses. But I am beginning to wonder about you.
BB: Marcel Hirscher's first reindeer definitely had issues with being replaced by a younger model.  Let's move on to a different subject. A couple of seasons ago, Lindsey Vonn's excuse coach offered to work with your mother and you to help you develop creative excuses when you did not win races. Did you ever work with him, and if so, how did those sessions go?
Shiffrin: I worked with him once, but thought that he was weird. When I don't win, it is because someone else was faster than me that day and therefore she deserved her victory. Who would really believe that the wind, only one course inspection, or the snow being the wrong shade of white would cause someone to lose a race?
BB: This is why you are such a refreshing role model for good sportsmanship. You don't make excuses when you lose a race, but you congratulate the winners. Speaking of being a role model, you are a real inspiration for those who don't want to work long hours.
Shiffrin: What!?! As a professional athlete, I work very hard to be in condition and at my best.
BB: The way I see it, you actually work for about 4 to 5 minutes a week. That is the combined time that you are on the course in a weekend of ski racing. Then you finish the race and eat a nice Barilla pasta meal that your mother cooked for you. OK, you have to work weekends, but most people could deal with that for a five-minute a week job. 
Shiffrin: I don't know where you are getting your information, but you are way off the mark. There is a lot of preparation during the week and off-season for those 5 minutes. I spend a lot of time training on snow and in the gym to prepare for my races.
BB: But the general public does not see you training. They only see you racing and think, "I want a job like Mikaela's where I only have to work a few minutes a week then eat pasta,  get a massage, and create dance routines with my physiotherapist afterward." 
Shiffrin: I think that most people realise that being a professional athlete is more than just what happens on race day. First of all, there are many years of training just to make it to the World Cup. Then at the World Cup level, there is increased training to maintain my fitness level. I must train every day in the gym and on snow. If I want to stay the best, I need to train hard. Yes, I get massages, but they are therapeutic. And I eat Barilla pasta because I like it. Come and spend a week with me to see how hard a ski racer really works. I think that I work harder than you!
BB: There's no need to get testy. We at the Blickbild are not only intrepid, we are also hard-working. The real way to settle who works harder is to have a camera crew follow us for a week to show what we really do. OK, you may do more physically demanding work and wake up very early in the morning to train, but we Blickbild reporters have to eat sheep spleens, ojlmsfjaegger, and surstroemming. We travel the world, including  places like Mongolia and the Mojave Desert, to bring our readers the stories that the others don't dare to print. Have you ever been to Mongolia?
Shiffrin: No. But I have been in gyms all over Europe to maintain my fitness.
BB: One more do you feel about the FIS proposal to make parallel races more interesting by giving the competitors guns or even bows and arrows?
Shiffrin: I never heard that. How would I hold both my poles and a gun or bow and arrow? I would need more than two hands. And why would I want to shoot my competitors? They are very nice and I am honoured to be in the World Cup with them.
BB: You wouldn't be shooting them with real bullets; the guns would either have paint balls or use a laser tag system. Even the FIS realises that if the athletes end up shooting each other, there would be no more ski racing. 
Shiffrin: That's a relief. I really like my fellow ski racers, even if they eat weird things. But you never answered how I would hold a gun and poles at the same time.
BB: When you learned to ski, you started off without poles, correct?
Shiffrin: Yes, but I started using poles after a short time like everyone else.
BB: So you know how to ski without poles already. And you have already won parallel races. All you need is a little target shooting practice and you could win parallel races with a gun. 
Shiffrin: I don't know....I would have to try and hit my opponent, who is a moving target, while avoiding being shot in the space of about 20 seconds.
BB: That's right. Think of the TV ratings and how more people in the States will be interested in ski racing because they love their guns. But the best part is the total time that you have to work is less than with a conventional race. 
Shiffrin: I think I will have to work even harder because I would need to ski well without poles and be a good shot. My work hours would double because of both ski training and target practice. There would be no time to sleep.
BB: But your hard work will be rewarded with more Barilla pasta. We all know that Barilla pasta is unbeatable,  just like you. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish you even more success this season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

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